The end of October and beginning of November brings about the close and celebration of the harvest season as well as a few other seasonal celebrations. October 31 is All Hallows’ Eve or Halloween, and it is the beginning of Samhein in Ireland and Dia de los Muertos in Mexico and other Latin American and European countries.
Halloween is celebrated every year on the evening of October 31 as a remembrance of the dead. The word is a contraction of All Hallows’ Eve or All Saints’ Eve, which is the night before All Saints Day or All Hallows’ Day, which is a Christian festival dedicated to honor all the Saints (which were often called hallows) and starts at sunset on October 31, ending at sunset on November 1. All Souls’ Day is celebrated on November 2. Hallowe’en combines customs of both pagan and Christian origins. It originated from the traditional Celtic celebration Samhein.
In Ireland, October 31 marks the beginning of Samhein, an ancient Celtic festival celebrating the end of the harvest season as well as honoring the dead. It customarily ends at sunset on November 1, however the festivities often last another day or two. During this season, it is believed that the boundary between this present-day world and the world of the dead is thought to be at its thinnest, hence easiest to crossover, so the souls of the dead come back to revisit the world of the living from dusk on October 31st until dusk on November 1.
Dia de los Muertos also begins on October 31 and goes for three days with special tradtional foods and literally millions of colorful flowers–mostly marigolds. It is a celebration of the lives of family and friends who have passed, combining customs and traditions from other cultures and countries. Day of the Dead is also celebrated in the U.S. and other countries, although it originated in Mexico, where it is a national symbol.
November 1 remembers babies and children–Día de los Inocentes or Día de los Angelitos–respectively Day of the Innocents or Day of the Little Angels. The actual Day of the Dead is November 2 commemorating all who have gone before although the entire holiday is referred to as Dia de los Muertos.
I have not yet recounted the recent festivities at the Ozark Folk Center for the annual Herb Harvest Fall Festival at the beginning of the month. I will do this pictorially with photographs. This year’s featured location was the Southern United Sates south of historic Route 40. We kicked off the event with a Lavish Herbal Feast, Southern-Style and a reception beforehand in the Heritage Herb Garden. The Ozark Unit of the Herb Society of America outdid themselves with table decorations and for the garden party making pimento cheese, deviled eggs, corn tamales, and hoe cakes with sorghum butter and Jezebel Sauce and we had Bloody Marys, Chesapeake-Style.
There followed two days of insightful, educational, and entertaining programs with great lunches prepared by the Skillet Restaurant. Nationally known speakers, Renee Shepherd of Renee’s Garden Seeds; Gayle Engels from American Botanical Council; storyteller, musician and wild woodsman, Doug Elliott; herbal historian Kathleen Connole; and I showcased the plants, lore, history and foods of the South along with other gardening and wild foods information. Jennifer Blankenship prepared a farewell tea with the help of other members of the Committee of 100 with delectable cookies and iced tea. Next year we hope more folks will show up for this amazing, high-quality programming-it will be the Northern states-north of U.S 40! We harvested all kinds of herbs for the event, along with garden grown chiles, okra, tomatoes, and whippoorwill cowpeas. Many thanks to Martha Stanley and Jennifer Blankenship for sharing their photos.
Hope you had a happy harvest season-here’s to whatever you might be celebrating–a happy Hallowe’en, Samhein and Dia de los Muertos!