It’s already time for Halloween and in some ways this year has flown by, and in others it seems to have just crept along dragging its heels. The cooler weather is wonderful and soon it will be winter. Now, we just get to enjoy Texas’ own version of fall or autumn, whichever you call it. While it has cooled off some, especially at night, you can tell the seasons have changed. We don’t have trees that have gorgeous foliage that is every beautiful shade of red/orange/yellow and that you can imagine. At my house, the way I can tell the difference is that the elm trees are beginning to shed their leaves, that’s it! My main prayer is that we not have a winter of the type we had last year, I don’t think I could handle it! Since I’m a year smarter, and now know that I have to call my propane people, I will make sure I have plenty of it. My previous delivery man came by every several months and if I needed it, he would put 100 gallons in for me. Now, not only has the company changed, this delivery man does not come unless I call in and ask, lesson learned the hard way. My tank was down to eight percent and they couldn’t get here due to the ice and snow, not gonna happen again!
Since I’m over five miles out in the country, there are no children knocking on my door, looking cute and saying “trick or treat”. In town, the merchants have a safe type of trick or treat by setting up on our main street and giving out candy and other treats. Several years ago, a friend had a grown up dinner party and beforehand, we all sat outside on lawn chairs and handed out the treats for her. (The last time I have seen that many children in costume was one of the first years I lived in Devine, we were inundated with children, and I had stocked up with three or four really large bags of candy, it was like every child in Devine came by car or truck, down Colonial Parkway!) From what I understand, the tradition here in Yoakum has been for most of the children who are out, end up “trick or treating” on Coke Street. It used to be considered the street where the “rich people” lived and after over two hours of children, we ran out of pencils, glow sticks, candy and anything else and went inside for our dinner! It was a very different experience for me, and exciting, as finally, a cousin explained it all to me. Most of these children had already been downtown and their bags were beginning to be really full…I would have hated to be a teacher the next day…this year, as last year, I have no clue as to how much goes on, with the pandemic and all, I think the businesses will still be giving treats, however, since I’m writing this before I get the weekly paper, I’m not sure what is taking place, and since it’s 5:00 a.m., no way will I make a phone call!
Halloween used to be a time when children dress up in scary masks and costumes, go from door to door in search of treats and excitement. How did Halloween get started? From where did the idea of dressing up come? Whose idea was it to reward each costumed (and some not costumed) person with a treat?
The origins of Halloween date back to the Celts. They lived in the area that is now known as England, northern France and Ireland. It was the Celts who traditionally celebrated a holiday called Samhain, which was celebrated on the night before the new year began and marked the end of the harvest season, and the beginning of the long cold winter. They believed that on this night, witches and ghosts ruled, and that the souls of the dead would rise to visit the places where they had lived. Fires were built to frighten the witches away, but food and lanterns were set out to welcome the ghosts and dead souls.
At a later time, Roman conquerors combined their own celebration of the dead with Samhain. November 1 was named as “All Saints Day” or “All Hallows Day”. The evening before was named “All Hallows Even”, way back in the 800’s. Although churches attempted to turn the people away from these celebrations, tradition and myth prevailed. People kept their beliefs in the wandering of the dead on this evening. That probably accounts for ghosts being associated with Halloween.
However, man Pagan ideas and customs still remained. The people in Ireland lit candles and lights to frighten the unwelcome ghosts and spirits away on Halloween night. They wore masks and costumes to ward off spirits and ghosts if they ventured away from their homes. Another invention of the Irish was trick or treating. Villagers in groups would go from house to house begging for food for a community feast. Those who gave generously received promises of a prosperous year; those who gave little were cursed and threatened.
Costumes have changed greatly since I was a child. Some of the children had masks shaped like a dog or cat or some other animal, but most of us wore the little “Lone Ranger” type of mask that had an elastic band that went around our head and cost at least a whole dime! Most of them were black, but sometimes we were lucky and had one that was white or pink. Today, costumes and masks are really elaborate, with the masks being made of rubber and covering the whole head. You can be almost anyone or anything you want to be, from the president of the United States to almost any individual, animal or hobgoblin you choose. I really do not remember doing a lot of trick or treating, however, I do remember friends or relatives having Halloween parties that we attended. As this was during the time of World War II, sugar and shortening were rationed as were tires and gasoline, so the greatest distance we would have been able to go would have been around the block or over to any friend who lived within walking distance. Also, during part of this time, we were subject to “blackouts”, where you were not allowed to have any lights on in your home, or if you did, you had to have black-out curtains on your windows so that no light showed through. At this time, the street lights were extinguished, and this would preclude anyone walking around with a flashlight or a pumpkin with a candle in it, because if there was any type of light showing anywhere, the Air Raid Warden would be sure to tell you to put it out. If a light showed around your curtains, or under a door, he would be knocking on that door and you would be in trouble. Our mothers brought treats to school for the entire class, so we were not completely deprived of goodies, (this is outlawed in most schools today, due to not wanting to give children too many sweets, due to the obesity issue, as well as allergies to various types of foods).
It is not a good idea to give homemade treats unless you know the children you are giving to. You spend so much time working on them, but unless the parents know you personally and you are a good friend, their children may not get to eat them, due to the situation in the world today
Following is a ‘recipe’ for face paint to make up your little hobgoblins. It is probably safer than a mask for some children as the eye openings don’t always fit so that a child can see.
Halloween Face Paint
(Enough for 1 face)
1 teaspoon cornstarch
½ teaspoon water
½ teaspoon cold cream
2 drops food coloring
Mix all ingredients in a small bowl and stir well. This will be a very pastel shade. For a deeper tone, use a little more food coloring. Make this up in different colors and you will have enough for several children.
With the change in the weather, is it time for soup? The following recipe is actually for one of the “Soup in a Jar” gifts, but I have broken it down so you can use it to make a pot of soup.
Texas Two-Step Soup
1 package 1.16 oz, Pioneer Brown Gravy mix (regular or no-fat), (you can use any brand that makes a total of 2 cups)
2 tablespoons mild red chili powder
2 teaspoons dried oregano leaves
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1 teaspoon dried minced onion
½ teaspoon garlic salt
½ pound ground meat
12 or more regular-size tortilla chips, coarsely crushed
1 to 1¼ cups uncooked small to medium-size pasta (such as wheels or shells)
7 cups water
1 can whole kernel corn with red and green bell peppers
1 can chopped tomatoes (16-oz size)
Mix together gravy mix and spices, in bowl; stir together and add chips and pasta, mix together. Brown meat in large saucepan or Dutch oven. Stir in contents of bowl and the 7 cups water. Heat to boiling. Stir in corn and chopped tomatoes. Reduce heat, cover and simmer for 20 to 25 minutes or until pasta is tender, stirring occasionally. Serve with additional crushed tortilla chips and shredded cheese. Makes 8 or more servings.
½ cup shortening
½ cup granulated sugar
2½ cups flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
½ teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1 teaspoon ground ginger
¼ teaspoon nutmeg or cloves
1 cup boiling water
1 cup molasses
Sift together: flour, baking powder, baking soda and spices; set aside. Cream together shortening, sugar and eggs until fluffy; and add sifted ingredients with the molasses. Add boiling water last and stir in gently, just until mixed. Pour into 9×13 pan and bake for 45 minutes or until done. If you like, sprinkle the top of the dough with a tablespoon or two of sugar before baking, or when cake is done, sprinkle with powdered sugar.