Unbelievable. Thousands – thousands of pumpkins.
In Kuwait, as in the USA and many other countries, there are mixed feelings about Hallowe’en. As a kid, we all dress up and go from house to house saying “Trick or Treat” and people give us candy. There isn’t anything scary – or spiritual – about it. It’s just a goofy day, not even a day off from school.
When we lived in Germany, All Saints Day (November 1st) gave a whole new, more spiritual meaning to the holiday, which has overlayed an ancient pagan New Year celebration. On All Hallow’s Eve, entire families go to the cemetaries carrying red-glass enclosed candles. The candles are placed on the graves of those who have died and are still remembered. German graveyards are beautiful, with lovely monuments, and flowers on the graves in summer, pine boughs in winter.
With their pumpkin-lanterns and witch costumes there’s many a child who’ll have great fun this evening celebrating Hallowe’en. It was derived originally from an ancient Pagan festival, it has become part of our culture and generally it’s an innocent excuse for people to have a good time.
Literally, of course, it is the eve of All Hallows – a preparation for the observance tomorrow of the Feast of All Hallows or All Saints. That feast gives the assurance that there is a state of being that stretches beyond our life here on this earth – an affirmation of the essential spiritual nature of human life. People are made for more than can be experienced over our lifetime spent in this world.
The Apostle Paul underscores that when he writes to the Ephesians, that the highest role reserved for human beings is, as he puts it, “to rule with Christ in the heavenly world. And God has done this to demonstrate for all time the extraordinary greatness of his grace in the love he showed us in Christ Jesus”.
So this Christian season brings us a comforting reminder that there is a destiny designed for us humans that assures us of a continuing existence, and it’s a promise endorsed by Jesus when he spoke of the many mansions that he has prepared for us. [Hallowe’en assures] us that God’s love stretches far beyond death.
Rev George Loane, former Methodist superintendent on Prayer for the Day, 31 October 2006
Jack-o’-lantern. Originally a turnip, this carved vegetable with a candle inside was used by a poor Irish soul named Jack to light his way as he wandered for eternity, denied entrance to both Heaven and Hell — Heaven because of his habitual stinginess and Hell because he had, while still alive, forced the devil into a pact that would spare Jack from ever going to Hell. Boy, did he live (or rather die) to regret it! The Irish brought this custom to the US in the 1840s but found it more convenient to use pumpkins than their traditional turnip, rutabaga or gourd.
Bobbing for apples. Bobbing for apples on Halloween (the time of the apple harvest) may have been inspired by the Celtic fables about heroes who journeyed across water seeking the magical apple tree on the mythical isle of Avalon. There is a more accepted theory: that the Celts (taking a leaf from the Romans who worshipped Pomona, the goddess of fruit and abundance) played a parlor game on Samhain in which unmarried people would try to bite into an apple in water or on a string; the first to succeed was thought to be the first to marry.
Trick or treating. This resembles the All Soul’s Day practice called “going a-souling” in which poor people would beg door-to-door. In exchange for a gift of soulcakes, the soulers would promise to say a prayer for the dead. It’s possible, though, that the practice developed independently in the US in the 20th century, especially the part where children threaten a trick if they don’t get a treat. (This may have been around the time manufacturers came up with fun-sized candy bars.)
Costumes. The Celts wore disguises, usually made of animal skins, during their Samhain celebrations, possibly to conceal themselves from the spirits who were afoot at the time. So those Catwoman and Spider-man outfits may be most true to the ancient roots of the practice.
Ghost stories. The Celts believed that during Samhain, the boundaries between this world and the otherworld became blurred and the spirits of those who had departed walked the earth. Those beliefs survive to this day in the form of ghost stories and divinations: asking for helpful hints or guides to the future from those who have second sight.
When you eat too much candy, bad things happen.
This is so gross, and too funny.
Not for people with a weak stomach.
In our family, Chinese food is often a big family event. At the end of a magnificent meal, we each have to choose a cookie and read it out loud. One time, my son got such a good fortune that he refused to take another fortune cookie for about a year, saying that he wants the fortune he was saving to continue!
From The New York Times
Don’t Open this Cookie!
The messages in fortune cookies are typically vague, banal and optimistic. But some cookies are now serving up some surprisingly downbeat advice.
“Today is a disastrous day. If you can’t beat ’em, join ’em,” reads one fortune showing up around the country.
“It’s over your head now. Time to get some professional help,” advises another.
As the messages, contained in cookies made by Wonton Food in Queens, have spread across the country, some diners have registered their reactions online. As a result, the company has a marketing challenge on its hands.
One blogger, who got the “professional help” fortune, wrote: “I shot the audacious baked item a dirty look and proceeded to eat it. And I hope it hurt.”
You can read the rest of the article at New York Times
As I stood on my balcony this morning, drinking my coffee and relishing the sweet coolness of the morning, watching the string of fishing boats out on the horizon, I had one of those moments when you are happy and you know it (clap your hands!) (oops, there comes the pre-school teacher back to haunt me! My first job as a married lady.)
Checking WeatherUnderground for Kuwait I could see that it was a bare 64°F / 18°C, and that this coming Friday, the high temperature for the day will NOT be above 90°F/ 32°C.
You who don’t live here can’t imagine the difference it makes. Right now, you can spend evenings walking around, freely, it is like being let out of jail to have the crushing heat gone. And daily, it is getting easier to be outside for longer and longer periods of time. All kinds of migrating birds are coming back, it is a lovely time of the year in Kuwait.
The fishermen are making full use of the sweet weather: