One of the things I think we miss out on in the Southern Hemisphere is celebrating festivals in the right season. Down here we play act seasonal celebrations like Christmas in the middle of Summer with hot roasts and rich puddings, hunting for Easter Eggs in the middle of Autumn, it’s so back to front. Another seasonal celebration that many have started celebrating in some form is Halloween.
Halloween, All Hallows Eve, All Saints Day, Last light celebrations have been around for many centuries and throughout many cultures. It’s the time of year when the trees and plants are dying down, the days are shorter and nights darker. In the past people also became fearful of the long winter months ahead, of food shortages and death. Celebrations centred around dressing up in costumes, lighting candles and having bonfires and celebrating those who had passed through the year. In Scotland and Northern England people would dress as ghosts, witches and goblins, they would blacken their faces with bonfire ash for protection. They would then carve out potatoes and turnips with scary faces to make lanterns and place them near doorsteps and in windows to scare away the legend of Stingy Jack. Immigrants took these traditions with them when they settled in America and it was then that pumpkins were carved into the Jack o Lantern and have become the popular symbol of Halloween that they are today.
So if we were to celebrate Halloween in New Zealand in the correct season, we would celebrate it on 30th April. It’s not exactly a festival that many New Zealanders tend to celebrate but I think it’s important that we celebrate our seasons and it is something I like sharing with my children, even if some of the traditions are taken from other countries.
Last year was the first year we carved out a Jack o Lantern, this year I thought we would do it again and celebrate our own version of All Hallows Eve. I have written this blog a week earlier since it’s the school holidays it could be something that many wish to do. Who knows it could be something that everyone starts to celebrate in the April School Holidays each year. Pumpkins are plentiful at this time of year and you should be able to find the orange pumpkins at most market gardens or farmers market across New Zealand now.
What you need:
- Sharp knife
- Vivid Marker Pen
- Bowl for scraps
- Orange Pumpkin variety
- Tea light candle and matches
To start off with draw you face onto the pumpkin and a round circle at the top for the lid. Using a sharp knife cut the lid out first and pull out the seeds, clean the inside of the pumpkin and give it a bit of a wash. Next cut out the eyes, nose and mouth or whatever design you have drawn.
Once you have finished this, your pumpkin is ready. Place a tealight candle in the centre and light. Pumpkins will last a few days if they are kept out of direct sunlight so you can light a few nights in a row.
Along with making Jack o Lanterns, it’s good to talk to your children about where the traditions of Halloween originated from, the history, fables and legends that surround the festival. It’s interesting to note that the popular trick or treating originated from the tradition of giving out soul cakes to young children who went from house to house singing and saying prayers.
From reading recipes online, Soul Cakes sound similar to a spiced scone, I thought I would give the recipe a go over the next week and see how they taste.
If you do decide to make a Jack o Lantern, we would love to see photos of your creations. Share them to our facebook page or on Instagram with the hashtag #pumpkindownunder
Have fun and I look forward to seeing some photos of your creations.