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 October 31 

All Hallows' Eve

("Hallows" means Saints)

Happy Halloween!

The Secular History


Halloween’s origins date back to the ancient Celtic festival of Samhain (pronounced sow-in). The Celts, who lived 2,000 years ago in the area that is now Ireland, the United Kingdom and northern France, celebrated their new year on November 1.

This day marked the end of summer and the harvest and the beginning of the dark, cold winter, a time of year that was often associated with human death. Celts believed that on the night before the new year, the boundary between the worlds of the living and the dead became blurred. On the night of October 31 they celebrated Samhain, when it was believed that the ghosts of the dead returned to earth.

In addition to causing trouble and damaging crops, Celts thought that the presence of the otherworldly spirits made it easier for the Druids, or Celtic priests, to make predictions about the future. For a people entirely dependent on the volatile natural world, these prophecies were an important source of comfort and direction during the long, dark winter.

To commemorate the event, Druids built huge sacred bonfires, where the people gathered to burn crops and animals as sacrifices to the Celtic deities. During the celebration, the Celts wore costumes, typically consisting of animal heads and skins, and attempted to tell each other’s fortunes.

When the celebration was over, they re-lit their hearth fires, which they had extinguished earlier that evening, from the sacred bonfire to help protect them during the coming winter.

Did You Know? One quarter of all the candy sold annually in the U.S. is purchased for Halloween.

By 43 A.D., the Roman Empire had conquered the majority of Celtic territory. In the course of the four hundred years that they ruled the Celtic lands, two festivals of Roman origin were combined with the traditional Celtic celebration of Samhain.

The first was Feralia, a day in late October when the Romans traditionally commemorated the passing of the dead. The second was a day to honor Pomona, the Roman goddess of fruit and trees. The symbol of Pomona is the apple, and the incorporation of this celebration into Samhain probably explains the tradition of “bobbing” for apples that is practiced today on Halloween.



Celebration of Halloween was extremely limited in colonial New England because of the rigid Protestant belief systems there. Halloween was much more common in Maryland and the southern colonies.

As the beliefs and customs of different European ethnic groups as well as the American Indians meshed, a distinctly American version of Halloween began to emerge. The first celebrations included “play parties,” public events held to celebrate the harvest, where neighbors would share stories of the dead, tell each other’s fortunes, dance and sing.

Colonial Halloween festivities also featured the telling of ghost stories and mischief-making of all kinds. By the middle of the nineteenth century, annual autumn festivities were common, but Halloween was not yet celebrated everywhere in the country.

In the second half of the nineteenth century, America was flooded with new immigrants. These new immigrants, especially the millions of Irish fleeing the Irish Potato Famine, helped to popularize the celebration of Halloween nationally.


Borrowing from Irish and English traditions, Americans began to dress up in costumes and go house to house asking for food or money, a practice that eventually became today’s “trick-or-treat” tradition. Young women believed that on Halloween they could divine the name or appearance of their future husband by doing tricks with yarn, apple parings or mirrors.

In the second half of the nineteenth century, America was flooded with new immigrants. These new immigrants, especially the millions of Irish fleeing the Irish Potato Famine, helped to popularize the celebration of Halloween nationally.


By the 1920s and 1930s, Halloween had become a secular, but community-centered holiday, with parades and town-wide Halloween parties as the featured entertainment. Despite the best efforts of many schools and communities, vandalism began to plague some celebrations in many communities during this time.

By the 1950s, town leaders had successfully limited vandalism and Halloween had evolved into a holiday directed mainly at the young. Due to the high numbers of young children during the fifties baby boom, parties moved from town civic centers into the classroom or home, where they could be more easily accommodated.

Between 1920 and 1950, the centuries-old practice of trick-or-treating was also revived. Trick-or-treating was a relatively inexpensive way for an entire community to share the Halloween celebration. In theory, families could also prevent tricks being played on them by providing the neighborhood children with small treats.

Thus, a new American tradition was born, and it has continued to grow. Today, Americans spend an estimated $6 billion annually on Halloween, making it the country’s second largest commercial holiday after Christmas.


Halloween has always been a holiday filled with mystery, magic and superstition. It began as a Celtic end-of-summer festival during which people felt especially close to deceased relatives and friends. For these friendly spirits, they set places at the dinner table, left treats on doorsteps and along the side of the road and lit candles to help loved ones find their way back to the spirit world.

Today’s Halloween ghosts are often depicted as more fearsome and malevolent, and our customs and superstitions are scarier too. We avoid crossing paths with black cats, afraid that they might bring us bad luck. This idea has its roots in the Middle Ages, when many people believed that witches avoided detection by turning themselves into black cats.

We try not to walk under ladders for the same reason. This superstition may have come from the ancient Egyptians, who believed that triangles were sacred (it also may have something to do with the fact that walking under a leaning ladder tends to be fairly unsafe). And around Halloween, especially, we try to avoid breaking mirrors, stepping on cracks in the road or spilling salt.


But what about the Halloween traditions and beliefs that today’s trick-or-treaters have forgotten all about? Many of these obsolete rituals focused on the future instead of the past and the living instead of the dead.

In particular, many had to do with helping young women identify their future husbands and reassuring them that they would someday—with luck, by next Halloween—be married. In 18th-century Ireland, a matchmaking cook might bury a ring in her mashed potatoes on Halloween night, hoping to bring true love to the diner who found it.

In Scotland, fortune-tellers recommended that an eligible young woman name a hazelnut for each of her suitors and then toss the nuts into the fireplace. The nut that burned to ashes rather than popping or exploding, the story went, represented the girl’s future husband. (In some versions of this legend, the opposite was true: The nut that burned away symbolized a love that would not last.)

Another tale had it that if a young woman ate a sugary concoction made out of walnuts, hazelnuts and nutmeg before bed on Halloween night she would dream about her future husband.

Young women tossed apple-peels over their shoulders, hoping that the peels would fall on the floor in the shape of their future husbands’ initials; tried to learn about their futures by peering at egg yolks floating in a bowl of water; and stood in front of mirrors in darkened rooms, holding candles and looking over their shoulders for their husbands’ faces.

Other rituals were more competitive. At some Halloween parties, the first guest to find a burr on a chestnut-hunt would be the first to marry; at others, the first successful apple-bobber would be the first down the aisle.

Of course, whether we’re asking for romantic advice or trying to avoid seven years of bad luck, each one of these Halloween superstitions relies on the goodwill of the very same “spirits” whose presence the early Celts felt so keenly.

Halloween Parties!

We go BIG at our house for the holidays and here are a few pictures of years past Halloween!

Getting Dressed Up!

Coronado, CA 2012

NAF Atsugi, Japan near Tokyo 2013

Only one piece of candy per person

and we were out of candy by 7:30pm!

Carmel, CA, 2010 Earthbound Farms
By far the best little pumpkin patch around

San Diego, CA 2011 and it was 90'F out that day!

When carving pumpkins use a power drill! Easy, fast, and safe!

Jacksonville, FL 2005

Pensacola, FL 2009



The Tale of Sting Jack...hmmm...not the Jack O'Latren?


Recipe of the Day
Halloween Sugar Cookies!

Sugar Cookies


  •  1 c. {two sticks} of REAL unsalted BUTTER, softened

  •  1 1/2 c. confectioner’s sugar

  •  1 egg

  •  2-3 tsp flavoring {pick what you like, I prefer almond}

  •  2 1/2-2 3/4 c. all-purpose flour

  •  1 tsp. salt


  1. Cream together softened butter and confectioner’s sugar.

  2. Crack the egg into a separate bowl, and add the flavoring.
    Add that to the butter sugar mixture and mix until the egg
    is thoroughly incorporated.

  3. In a separate bowl, sift together the flour, and salt,
    then add little by little to the mixture. I can tell the dough is ready
    when most of it sticks to the paddle. When I touch it, it has a
    little give, but does not stick to my fingers.

  4. Roll out on parchment to about 1/4 an inch thick, use flour for
    dusting as necessary.

  5. Then, cut and bake at 400 degrees for 7-8 minutes.
    This version makes 2-2 1/2 dozen, doubled, it makes 4-5 dozen.


  • The dough DOES not need to be refrigerated. That’s why I like it. 

  • The dough needs to rest a little after mixing, it will firm up a little bit after a minute or two 

  • The recipe doubles well 

  • Baking times are approximate. You must KNOW your oven. Watch them the first few times you bake them. Get a thermometer, and do not over bake. If the cookies are browning you have gone too far. 

  • This dough can be flavored any way you like. 

  • The cookies freeze well 

  • There is not a lot of leavener in these cookies. This is not a typo. The general rule is less leavener so they don’t spread. 

  • This recipe does spread a little. If you don’t like that add a little flour. Speaking of flour, start with 2 1/2 cups. Add another 1/4 of a cup if the dough seems to sticky. 

  • If you don’t like salt, leave it out altogether. If you only have salted butter, use that and reduce the salt. 

  • I prefer decorating day-old cookies. They are less likely to leach oil back into your icing if they have had a day or two to “dry out”. They are still soft, however.

A little more history with some recipes:

Pomona: Goddess of Fruit



Barmbrack is a sweet, eggy bread that is studded with dried fruit. The name comes from two words: the old English “beorma” which is a yeasty fermented liquor, and the Irish word “brack” meaning speckled. So, barmbrack is a “yeasty speckled bread“. A BIT OF HALLOWEEN HISTORY Did you know that Halloween has deep Celtic roots? The history of Halloween can be traced back to the Celtic festival of Samhain (pronounced SOW-in), which celebrated the end of summer and the harvest and the beginning of winter. It was believed that October 31st, the last night of their year, the boundary between the living and after worlds became blurred and the ghosts of the dead could return to earth.

AN IRISH HALLOWEEN TRADITION On Halloween in Ireland, it is common to serve colcannon and barmbrack. Thick slices of warm bread are slathered with butter and served with tea. But, be careful as you bite into your slice of barmbrack, because you might find a surprise in your slice that will tell your fortune for the year ahead. 

While most Irish homes only bake a penny (for good fortune) into their bread these days, in the past it was traditional to bake a number of items into the bread. If you got the ring, you were going to be wed. If you got the pea, you wouldn’t be married in the coming year. If you got the small piece of cloth, your financial future did not look too prosperous. We decided not to bake any items into our barmbrack. But, if we were bringing it to a party or sharing it with friends, it would be a fun game, that’s for sure. If you did want to bake anything into your bread, we would recommend wrapping it in a piece of baking parchment (parchment paper) (NOT wax paper or butcher paper) before mixing it into your bread dough when you add the dried fruit. 

OUR IRISH BARMBRACK RECIPE Traditional Irish Barmbrack includes a spice that is known in Ireland and Britain as “mixed spice”. From what we have read, this spice is very similar to American “pumpkin pie spice”. Our recipe below breaks the spice down to its common elements: cinnamon, nutmeg, cloves. But, if you have a favorite pumpkin pie spice, feel free to use 1 Tbsp of that instead of the warm spices in the bread.

MAKING HALLOWEEN BREAD WITH DRIED FRUIT The important thing to remember when making a yeast bread that contains dried fruit is that the fruit will soak up moisture as the bread rises and bakes. This means that your dough should be slightly sticky after the first kneading.

You’ll be surprised to find that the dough isn’t very sticky at all when you take it out to shape it after the first proofing. 

*Barmbrack (from Irish Gaelic baìrin breac – “speckled loaf”) 

It’s often served toasted in the afternoon along with a cup of tea.

But what make this recipe so special?

Barmbrack is center of an Irish Halloween Costum. As well as fruit, the cake should also contain several objects.

Wich object you get is meant to predict how the coming year will turn out to you: it’s a kind of fortune-telling game!

If you find…

  • the coin: you will enjoy good fortune or become rich!

  • the ring: wow, you will be wed within the year: romance is in the air!

  • the stick: you will be in disputes with your partner

  • the rag: sorry, you are going to be poor!

  • the pea: you are not going to get married next year… maybe the year after?

~Stingy Jack

Irish Recipe:




  • ¾ c milk, warmed to 80F

  • 1 TBSP honey

  • 2 Tbsp salted butter, melted

  • 1 TBSP active dry yeast

  • 1/3 c sugar

  • 1 egg, at room temperature, beaten

  • 3 c unbleached all purpose flour

  • 1 tsp cinnamon

  • 1 tsp pumpkin pie spice

  • zest of an orange

  • ¼ tsp salt

  • 1 c mixed dried fruit (raisins, craisins, golden raisins, etc)

  • 1 egg white beaten with 1 Tbsp water (for egg wash)


  1. In a large bowl, mix the warm milk.
    Add the honey and mix well.
    Sprinkle the yeast into the milk and let it stand until foamy, 5 min. (Bloom!)

  2. In a mixing bowl add dry ingredients flour, sugar, the spices, the orange zest, and the salt.

  3. Mix in the dried fruit. (You can add some rum or Irish whiskey to the dried fruit if you want)

  4. Add the yeast mixture to the flour, along with the butter and egg.

  5. Knead the dough a few turns, adding flour as necessary to keep it from sticking too much. 

  6. Place the dough into a clean, greased bowl and cover it with a damp tea towel. Place the dough in a warm, draft-free place to rise until doubled, roughly 45 minutes to 1 hour.

  7. Once the dough has risen, punch it down and turn it out onto a lightly floured surface. Knead the dough a few turns, adding a little flour, as necessary, to keep it from sticking. (The dough should be soft and slightly sticky.)

  8. Shape the dough into a round loaf and place it on a well-greased baking sheet.

  9. Brush the dough with the a little of the beaten egg white and water mixture and set it aside to rise in a warm, draft free place for 35-40 minutes.

  10. Near the end of rising time, preheat your oven to 350F.

  11. Once the dough has risen, bake the bread for 35-40 minutes. When done, the loaf will be deep golden brown on top and the bottom will sound hollow when tapped. 

  12. Place the cooked loaf on a wire rack to cool slightly before slicing and serving warm with butter. 


Old World Irish Prayer:


I think it is very import to show the over lap of old world traditions with Catholic ones. Through out the seasons you will see this over and over.


A little song with a traditional English Recipe:

Souling Song - Kristen Lawrence
00:00 / 00:00

Sing a Song for a Soul Cake

A soul, a soul, a soul cake,
Please, good missus, a soul cake,
An apple, a pear, a plum or a cherry,
Any good thing to make us merry.
One for Peter, two for Paul,
Three for Him that made us all.

God bless the master of this house and the mistress also
And all the little children that around your table grow,
Likewise your men and maidens, your cattle and your store
And all that dwells within your gates,
We wish you ten times more.
A soul, a soul, a soul cake,
Please, good missus, a soul cake,
An apple, a pear, a plum or a cherry,
Any good thing to make us merry.
One for Peter, two for Paul,
Three for Him that made us all.

The lanes are very dirty and my shoes are very thin,
I've got a little pocket I can put a penny in.
If you haven't got a penny, a ha' penny will do,
If you haven't got a ha' penny, then God bless you.
A soul, a soul, a soul cake,
Please, good missus, a soul cake,
An apple, a pear, a plum or a cherry,
Any good thing to make us merry.
One for Peter, two for Paul,
Three for Him that made us all.

Souls cake recipe


Soul cakes are an old English traditional cake, sometimes known simply as ‘souls’. The tradition of giving out soul cakes on All Hallows’ Eve dates back to the Middle Ages, when children went door-to-door saying prayers for the dead  On All Hallows’ Eve, All Saints’ Day and All Souls’ Day, children went ‘souling’, asking for soul cakes from house to house: quite possibly a precursor to trick or treating. 

Soul cakes

Makes 12–15 cakes 

  • 6 oz butter

  • 6 oz sugar

  • 3 egg yolks

  • 2 c AP flour

  • 2 tsp pumpkin spice mix

  • 4 oz currants

  • a little milk to mix 


  1. Pre-heat the oven to 375F.

  2. Cream the butter with the sugar until it’s light and fluffy and then beat in the egg yolks one at a time. 

  3. In a separate bowl, sieve the flour and the spices together and add to the wet mixture along with the currants (reserving a small handful to decorate the tops later). 

  4. Mix with a wooden spoon and then add some milk to pull everything together into a dough.knife to make a slight cross indent in the top of each cake and then push in raisins along it. 

  5. Roll out to a thickness of around 1cm and cut out rounds with a biscuit cutter. Use a straight-sided 

  6. Place on a piece of baking parchment on a baking tray and bake for 10 to 15 mins on the fire or in the oven until golden. Allow to cool before eating. 


Fun Facts!

Another fun fact:

Witch Balls were very popular in 18th century England, but their actual origin is thought to be much older. For well over 300 years hollow glass spheres have been hung in windows to ward off witch spells, evil spirits and ill fortune. Hanging these decorative balls in the window is thought to tantalize evil spirits which may be threatening a home's tranquility. The evil spirit is mesmerized by the ball's reflective beauty. When the spirit touches the sphere it is absorbed and trapped in the web-like strands of glass inside the ball.

Every ball hold a special meaning  which is beautiful: 


"Grace" reminds us to reflect on the goodness of grace and how we can help to bring more of it to others and the world. 

"Kindness" We most often notice kindness when we receive it, and then we want to pass it on. Like a small drop of water in the ocean it may not seem like much, but it ripples out. Kindness grows! Just as trees bring beauty to the world, kindness makes everyday more bright.

"Gratitude" Every day we are surrounded by many gifts. By taking the time to celebrate these gifts we are able to feel gratitude for the people or circumstances that allow us to have what we do. Gratitude can come in many forms and just like the roots of a tree it can be deep and everlasting. By showing gratitude for those around us we acknowledge their efforts to make our life and the lives around them meaningful.

"Joy" Delight in the vibrant mix of life's simple pleasures. Like a tree brushing into life after a long winter spread the joy you feel today with those around you. The Tree of Joy reminds us that performing small acts of kindness can help make the world a more joyful place.

"Love" There is no greater gift in the world than the gift love. Like a tree, love grows stronger and more beautiful with time. The Tree of Love represents the countless blessings the love brings into our lives.

The Tree of Life
It reminds us to live everyday of our lives with compassion, integrity & gratitude.

Watch the History (National Geographic):

Halloween at church?
Oh yeah....History is so cool!

Trunk or Treat at out local church in 2015

Remember Halloween is what you make of it so do it fun, safe, and with family!

I wanted to show the history and the origin of this holiday not to glorify paganism but one should be able to state the root of a holiday and be able to show how others celebrate it.

It is a feast that is celebrated by almost all in the US, so it was something needing to be addressed.

Halloween does have ties with the church, some good and some bad.

I have celebrated this holiday with my local church and ones around the world. 


The catholic church has heart and instead of making things evil they "Give it to Christ". To help convert people to Christ with love & compassion.


There are parallels with many holidays. We have symbols of pagan holidays with many days of Holy Days of Obligation. 


Symbolism is very import for people and the church knows this.
Symbolism gives remembrance, a reason to remember & yes celebrate….
Like Franics of Assisi and the nativity, why do we have the nativity, why do we celebrate it?
We do it because it gave a rebirth to the church in a time when it was needed. This was done because Francis wanted to show people, all people, that Christ was relatable. Guess what, it worked, we still celebrate it and remember the feast of the nativity because of him.


Other parallels…. 

  • Pagan Yule log, Christmas tree & ornaments = Christmas

  • Pagan Ostrea eggs (rebirth and new beginnings, resurrection) = Easter

  • St Lucy in Sweden is a celebration of the joy of light for the longest darkest day of the year
    (winter solstice and the rebirth of the sun) thus a combination of paganism & christianity

  • Candlemas and it ties with Imbolic which is the lighting of the candles…..

  • Originally the observance of the winter solstice, and the rebirth of the sun, brought about many practices that remain in the Advent and Christmas celebrations today. 


How does one address this,

  • the ties,

  • the history,

  • why we celebrate these days the way that we do,

  • how did the customs come about?


Around the year 600 Pope Gregory I, stated “ Consecrate it to Christ”

he was referring to pagan traditions to Halloween (Samhain) in its celtic and indigenous form.

Long story short, that didn’t work out so well so...
All Saints' Day was formally started by Pope Boniface IV in 609 

  • The choice of the day may have been intended to co-opt the pagan holiday "Feast of the Lamures,"
    a day which pagans used to placate the restless spirits of the dead.

Pope Gregory III est. All Saints day on November the 1st in the mid-eighth century as a day dedicated to the saints and their relics.

In Ireland, the Church celebrated All Saints' Day on April 20, to avoid associating the day with the traditional harvest festivals and pagan feasts associated with Samhain, celebrated at the same time.


Establishing the name Hallow meaning saints … eve meaning before… we say Halloween & All Hallow's eve, going into All Hallow's Day


All Souls Day came into play in the 10th century because of the controlling hold over from the deep celtic roots.


….Thus the witch trails started


  • 1431 claimed Joan of Arc found guilty of being a witch/heretic/dressing like a man/speaking to god and was burned at the stake...


  • 1486 Pope Innocence 8th out lawed the holiday because of it’s links to witches and their craft


The middle-ages: on Halloween in 1517 there was a change in the church, the splitting of the church due to the Protestant reformation (Martin Luther) dismissing all saints and their ties (also praying for the dead & purgatory)…..

In 1605 started what is now known as Guy Fawkes (Fox) Day, a poplar English holiday: why?

It was due to his catholic faith celebrated in part now with Halloween! 

*Some settlers brought Guy Fawkes Night to North America, where it was known as Pope Day. Those festivities died out with the onset of the American Revolution


1620: At this time Protestants felt, among other things, that Halloween was too catholic and too pagan (...among other things) thus breaking away and sailed on a boat called the Mayflower….

In America, in the north, anything resembling catholicism was outlawed but in the south, like in Virginia, Halloween flourished because of the large number of catholics and thus becoming the birth place for the American Halloween.

Most all people in the past did believe in some "magic" because they didn’t know the science behind life….
How else could one explain things other than "it was magic…."


We don’t believe this now because we know how things truly work….

  • where does the sun go at night,

  • why are the days shorter in the winter,

  • why did we have a big storm….not magic, but science.

Like Saint Albert the Great patron saint of scientist & Saint Thomas Aquinas patron saint of students and all universities we pray WITH them for guidance & inspiration for knowledge and to learn.

We are no longer in the darkness. God does provide, God shows himself in humanity. God answers our questions with science.
Each experiment, each equation, each answer is Christ showing his grace.

Science doesn’t prove that God doesn’t exist but rather it should strengthens one's faith.


We hold on to these traditions because they are spent with family and are fun …a time to remember and believe that god is good.

To know the history doesn’t weaken my faith in god, it shows me his grace.


Today’s symbols are ones to remind us to not be afraid. The holiday has grown and evolved into what it is now, not what it was in the past.

Halloween has changed it shape to fit the times. 


Today's Halloween or Harvest Festival is meant to bring community together. 

To show that we trust our neighbors.

This is the only time of year that we go door to door asking for candy and trust it is fine. This is a form of gods grace, that love will prevail.

This is a celebration at the end of an amazing harvest, start of winter, is spent filling our hearts with joy & happiness surround with friends & family.

May God Bless you and your family on this all Hallows Eve.

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