Garden Lifestyle

October 31: All Hallows Eve, Samhain and Day of the Dead

Today is a day of multiple celebrations: All Hallows Eve, Samhain and Day of the Dead (and Mercury has gone into retrograde for the final time this year—until November 20).

Day of the Dead celebrations feature marigolds. Click on other pix to enlarge and read captions.
Photo/Illustration: susan belsinger

Today is a day of multiple celebrations: All Hallows Eve, Samhain and Day of the Dead (and Mercury has gone into retrograde for the final time this year-until November 20). We have had unbelievably warm weather-today was nearly 70 and it felt downright balmy outdoors. It rained this morning and was quite breezy and cloudy all day; the colored leaves have been floating down continuously. The earth is literally littered with leaves. I give thanks for the glorious trees. Paul Strauss calls them “The Big Herbs” and has a book by the same title, which I purchased at United Plant Savers-I recommend it.

October 31 is all Hallow’s Eve and there will be lots of dressing up in costumes and trick-or-treating from coast to coast. I like to see the decorations: cornstalks, straw bales, brightly colored chrysanthemums, winter squash, gourds and occasional scarecrows decorating porches, yards, fences and lampposts. I have pumpkins, squash, gourds, Osage oranges and mums on and around my backporch, and of course canning jars with candles and twinkle lights inside and out.

In Ireland, from dusk on October 31 into the evening of November 1 is the celebration called Samhain (pronounced sow-en) ,which is a day I give thanks for the garden bounty, the farmers and the foods that we have harvested from our gardens. This day starts the new yearly cycle for the Celtic people and celebrates the harvest season moving in to the death and rebirth of the earth; it is celebrated with seasonal foods and then a time of quiet waiting and introspection.

Also, Day of the Dead began today through tomorrow-it is a day to recall and honor our ancestors. It is celebrated in Mexico with all types of food-one is supposed to cook the food that certain loved ones liked best and put it on the altar. There is music and flowers everywhere, most especially the golden-orange marigold is traditional. And so I’ve gathered in all of my marigolds along with some brilliant nasturtiums and arranged an autumnal table and will light candles this evening, and think about those who have passed before us. I sort of combine all three celebrations into two days, so the table has squash, gourds, chiles, an herbal garland and flowers and candles.

I harvested greens from the garden for supper: chard, kale, arugula, nasturtium leaves and some chickweed, which I will wilt down. There is winter squash baking in the oven-Delicata and butternut-enough for dinner tonight and some puree to make pumpkin scones (squash is a great substitute) tomorrow. Will toss the veggies with some pasta and Parmigniano, olive oil and garlic for a perfect seasonal supper.

Tomorrow evening, November 1, we have a frost warning for my zone 7 Maryland garden. I will spend the day cleaning up all of the outside plants in containers, pulling out leaves and weeds and trimming them back and carrying them into the greenhouse.

Hope you have a day or two of celebration and reflection–whatever you might be celebrating-Halloween, Samhain, Day of the Dead-and happy harvest season!

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