Saturday, October 18, 2014

Happy Halloween-why do we dress as witches


Halloween, All saints, Toussaint, Eid Al Adha, Shemini Atzeret what do they have in common?  Read on.....

This watercolour witch is riding a watercolour paintbrush....
Interestingly, halloween matches the French "Toussaint" where you traditionally go with your family to visit the tomb of your ancestors/departed family.  It involves a lot less candy.....

So why is this holiday asssociated with witches and grim reapers?

In astronomy, halloween represents the halfway point between the autumnal equinox and winter solstice, the last of four "cross-quarter" days on the solar calendar.  It was the end of the year, beginning of the new one for the celts. And in esoteric tradition the day of the year where the veil between the living and the dead is the thinnest. 

The Celts believed that at the time of Samhain, more so than any other time of the year, the ghosts of the dead were able to mingle with the living, because at Samhain the souls of those who had died during the year traveled into the otherworld. People gathered to sacrifice animals, fruits, and vegetables.

Shemini Atzeret in the Jewish religion is around the same time and marks the end of the year's weekly readings of the Torah (Five Books of Moses) in the synagogue, and the beginning of the new cycle of reading.
Eid Al-Adha for Muslims concludes the annual Hajj, or pilgrimage to Mecca. 
Many more religions have major celebration linked to end/beginning of year around Halloween.

We will be spending Halloween going around West Hampstead and Hampstead with a group of Pokemon dressed teenagers.  I guess it good that these happy teenagers don't really like to dress in ghoulish styles.  But I'll be sure to explain to them why they shouldn't look too cheerful when going to bed less the Hallloween spirits find them too delicious!  (That a good halloween scary story isn't it!)
I'll be dressed as a witch, like every year before!

(Cropped picture below to see better cheeks and ragged hat!)

Monday, October 13, 2014

Onion soup recipe

Now that we have a big family I tend to buy things in bulk.  As much as it can be considered "bulk" in a London supermarket.  

So what do you do for diner when you have several kilos of pink onions in a cupboard and nothing much else as far as fresh vegetables?  Onion soup.

In France it is a classic hang-over cure served for breakfast when the party is winding down.  
Here it was adapted from the traditonal clear broth recipe, with a roux start to give it body (and an optional glug of wine).