Saturday, 27 October 2018

Halloween Cookies and Customs

I love Halloween, the dressing up, the spiritual significance, the whimsy and the food. As a family with strong Scottish Celtic and Gaelic roots it’s great to keep this bit of history and tradition alive. 

One of my traditions is to bake my Halloween cookies. I use my sister Melindas recipe and my son and I decorate them together. I’ve added the recipe below. 

However what is Halloween all about? Well it’s certainly not about scary movies and blood and guts as Hollywood movies might have us believe. It has much more spiritual significance and is quite a lovely tradition to share with your children. 

So as children and adults participate in the fun of Halloween on the night of October 31st, few will be aware of its historic Celtic roots in the Samhain (Samain) festival. In Celtic Ireland about 2,000 years ago, Samhain was the division of the year between the lighter half (summer) and the darker half (winter). It is believed at Samhain the division between this world and the otherworld was at its thinnest, allowing spirits to pass through.

Hence family's ancestors were honoured and invited home whilst harmful spirits were warded off. 

People wore costumes and masks to disguise themselves as harmful spirits and thus avoiding harm. Bonfires and food played a large part in the harvest festivities. Food was prepared for the living and the dead, food for the passed ancestors was ritually shared with the less well off, and shared with the children who often collected food for the festivities.


Christianity incorporated the honouring of the dead into the Christian calendar with All Saints (All Hallows) on November 1st, followed by All Souls on November 2nd. The wearing of costumes and masks to ward off harmful spirits survived as Halloween customs. 

So why is it considered such an American custom? The Irish emigrated to America in great numbers during the 19th century especially around the time of famine in Ireland during the 1840's. The Irish carried their Halloween traditions to America. Over time other traditions have blended into Halloween, for example the American harvest time tradition of carving pumpkins. 

So whether you’re from Scottish Gaelic and Celtic ancestors as my family are or Irish, Italian, American we all feel a connection to this celebration and it’s a great way to keep tradition and history alive for our children whilst honouring our departed loved ones. 


Have fun on Halloween, honour your departed loved ones and enjoy the festivities.