Pumpkin soup is such an obvious choice for a warm hearty soup on Halloween night and if you are going to have pumpkins for your lanterns, this is a good way of using up the wonderful pumpkin flesh instead of throwing it away.
The glorious orange coloured pumpkins sold in markets can be used as lanterns during Halloween and therefore the demand for pumpkins is greater at this time of year.
People celebrate almost everywhere nowadays by dressing up in 'scary' costumes and visiting friends, or going to parties and restaurants etc. The most popular form of Halloween costumes are witches, goblins, and ghosts etc.
Halloween did not originate in America which may surprise you but is in fact a tradition from the British Isles.
It began with a group of peoples known as the celts who lived around the areas of Ireland, the United Kingdom and Northern France.
These peoples held sacred religious rituals on the night of October 31st to celebrate the coming of their New Year on November 1st. This was called the Samhain, which is pronounced 'sow in' which means 'summers end'.
They believed that on this night, the eve of the New Year, that the spirits of the dead would come back to earth and could if they wanted, cause havoc.
They believed that their priest who were called Druids, would be able to communicate with these spirits.
They would build a bonfire at the beginning of the Samhain which the Druids themselves would light and then the people would burn sacrifices to their gods such as crops and animals to please them in the hope that they would have a prosperous new year. The Celts would wear special costumes during these festivities, mainly made from animal skins.
These traditions continued until around 43 AD when the Romans conquered the Celts. The Romans then combined the Samhain with a couple of their own festivities which also occurred around this time of year. These were the Feralia which was a celebration for remembering the dead and another day in which they paid honour to the Roman goddess Pomona.
Pomona was a goddess who was associated with fruit and trees, her main symbol being the apple. This may be why now at our own Halloween celebrations, people 'bob' for apples.
This new tradition which was celebrated on November 1st was to be called 'All Saints Day' and in France it is known as La Toussaint which celebrates their saints who do not have their own Holy day.
For those people who kept to the older traditions they preferred to celebrate as their ancestors did on October 31st or All Hallows Eve. This eventually became known as Halloween.
The Irish immigrants took these traditions with them when they went to America during the 1840's and gradually it changed into what we celebrate today.
Large bonfires are not lit as part of the traditional Halloween celebrations but nowadays pumpkins are used as lanterns. The orange pulp is taken out of the centre and then it is carved with such patterns as eyes and mouths which look kind of spooky when the lantern is lit.
It's fun and interesting to know where the tradition has come from and that we can still have fun today.
Here is a recipe for a delicious and warming Halloween pumpkin soup - shame to waste the lovely orange pulp in those beautiful lanterns!
This recipe is for about six people.
2 lbs pumpkin, peeled, seeded and cut in large pieces
2 ozs ( 4 level tablespoons) of butter
1/4 pint water
2 1/4 (1.3 litres) pints milk
Salt and grated nutmeg
2 ozs rice
First melt the butter in a heavy bottomed pan.
Cook pumpkin slowly over a low heat for about 15 minutes, stirring frequently.
Add the nutmeg, salt and warm water.
Cook rapidly until soft.
Use a blender to bring to a puree.
Put milk in a the pan, add puree and rice.
Bring to the boil, then simmer over a low heat for about half an hour.
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