It’s a spook-tacular day! The origins of Halloween date back to the ancient times of the Celts. Every October 31, they held a festival called Samhain. This marked the end of summer and their fruitful harvest and the beginning of darker days and eventual winter, and the day where the boundary between the worlds of the living and dead became hazy. All fires were extinguished at the beginning of the festival. Then, the Druid priests would build new, large bonfires to burn the rest of the crops and sacrifices. Costumes were worn in celebration with the new fires of the new year. For the Celts, and those who lived in the area about 2,500 years ago (what is now considered northern France, Ireland, and the UK), the new year was celebrated on November 1.
As the lands of the Celts changed hands many times, so did the tradition of October 31st. In the early 600s A.D., one of the popes moved the observance of All Saint’s Day from May 13 to November 1. This day became known as All-Hallows or All-Hallowmas in the local spheres of Middle English. Eventually, All-Hallows Eve became what we know today as Halloween.
Before pumpkins, turnips were carved and called jack-o-lanterns, and they were used to ward off any evil spirits lurking in the lore of the time. Once settled in America, those with Celtics roots, and those who enjoyed following the roots of Samhain and All-Hallow’s Eve, would carve pumpkins to ward off evil spirits because the pumpkin was such a bumper crop. The pumpkin seeds were most likely saved for next year or eaten as a treat.
Pumpkin seeds make a delicious and quick treat after carving that jack-o-lantern or using the flesh for pie. Preheat your oven to 325 degrees. Take the seeds from your pumpkin, boil them for five minutes (cleans them), and pat dry. Spread them on a single layer on a baking sheet and prepare your seeds with a favorite spice combination, like cinnamon and clove or ginger and maple syrup, or more savory spice combinations like paprika and black pepper or curry powder. Bake the seeds for about 30-45 minutes, just until the seeds are lightly golden and crunchy. While baking, stir and toss the seeds every 10 minutes or so to ensure even roasting. Once the seeds are out of the oven, let them cool and enjoy or store.
Trick or Treat!