Sunday, October 30, 2011

A Victorianesque Hallowe'en: Hallowe'en Dinner

So this evening we had the big family dinner, as one does on any proper holiday.  We opted for Victorian red and black for the colours of the evening, purple lights overhead and dishes like Guinness roast, black rice with mushrooms, pasta in Hallowe'en shapes with a deep red, spicy red sauce and gourmet sausages. An assortment of pumpkin and red velvet treats served as dessert with a rich French Roast coffee and spiced cider.

This year, instead of "dressing" for dinner (aka: costuming, as it has been an incredibly hectic season), the evening was spent enjoying time with family, sharing memories of those no longer with us (See post on Homages), and discussing ideas for final touches to last minute decorations before the trick-or-treaters descend on the neighborhood tomorrow as well as ideas for next year, including gardening ideas involving dark vines and blooming foliage in shades of black, crimson and white.

Having a family dinner is much different from the usual Hallowe'en Party. As much as I adore having parties, the dinner allows for a more relaxed, intimate atmosphere and a different dynamic that allows for keeping with the true spirit of the season: Reminiscence. Were we closer to the final resting places of some of those who took center stage in our stories and anecdotes, the day would have included graveside visits and bouquets. As it stands, this year an homage, a story and a toast to the dearly departed took the place of our graveyard festivities.

So why am I sharing this as part of the Victorianesque Hallowe'en list? Well, in Victorian times, Hallowe'en did not include the common practice of children dressing in costumes and going door to door for treats. It was also the time of harvest in more rural areas. Huge celebrations of abundance also heeded the season and old superstitions that included the return of the dead to the land of the living for one night. Celebrations often included offerings and small rituals to ensure the safety of the living and blessings for the dead. Naturally, one could not have a celebration with bonfires without ghost stories.  In the cities, the fun of ghost stories was also enjoyed at private gatherings after an elaborate dinner and a few games many of us still enjoy today. No, we did not bob for apples tonight. I'm afraid I baked them. Dessert for tomorrow. One must pace these things, you know.

The final deciding factor in sharing this peek into my own celebrations was when a friend asked what we had planned for the holiday and I mentioned the family dinner. The look I received was one of curiosity and mild surprise. Until that moment, it had not occurred to me that it would be out of the ordinary. Perhaps we are a bit more reserved than those who celebrate Dia de los Muertos (a wonderful celebration, indeed), but the intent, the sentiment and the outcome are the same.  Perhaps next year I will try my hand at making sugar skulls just to make it interesting. And messy. I have already emailed a few menu ideas to my friend. I hope her family dinner was just as fun.

For now I am off to work on something for tomorrow, October's final post, and finish jotting down that To Do list from tonight's conversations.

A Blessed, Spooky, Creative and Joyous evening to you all. Sleep well and see you on All Hallow's Eve =)


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