We had our festival, Welcome To Winter, today. A warm, sunny day, on the verge of Halloween. Halloween is short for All Hallows Eve, which is the day before All Saints Day. Traditions associated with Halloween go back to pagan times, and were taken up by Christianity. It was said the recently dead couldn’t go to heaven until All Saints Day, and so relatives sat round their grave all night with lanterns made from hollowed out turnips, called jack o’lanterns. In Scotland and Ireland the poor dressed up, often in costume, and went door to door singing and saying prayers for the recently dead.
In the 19th century, the Irish and Scots went to America in great numbers and took their traditions with them. Turnips were replaced by pumpkins, which were bigger, much easier to hollow out and could easily have faces cut into them. The going door to door became “trick or treat” for children. With movies and capitalism, a simple festival was converted into a grander affair where children go house to house as ghouls, witches, vampires and skeletons to get their treats. Houses are often decorated with jack o’lanterns and ghoulish decorations sold for the occasion.
The renewed festival has returned, with horror washing away the remnants of religion.
At the garden, we had pumpkin soup, minestrone and bread, tea, coffee and biscuits. Three loaves were donated by the Wild Goose bakery. There was music from Anything Goes, the twosome with violin and guitar playing popular numbers, followed by the Dog Jammers who gave us folk, blues, and pop perennials. They dedicated ‘I Want To See The Bright Lights Tonight’ to Sophie. It was a favourite number of hers. Our chair made a short commemorative speech on behalf of the garden. This was just the sort of day she loved.
There were activities for children, who could stick eyes on tangerines to make faces reminiscent of jack o’lanterns, and do painting and plasticine modelling. They searched the garden for random letters hanging from trees and shrubs, making up ‘Scared’. No one was. And it’s no spoiler, for it was just for the day. We had one pumpkin, no more, as members were uncomfortable at the waste of Halloween, with too many rotting lanterns and the seeds and pulp thrown away.
It was 22 degrees, shirtsleeves weather, pleasant but with an edge of discomfort. This is the end of October, we should not be having temperatures so high. But we are, and will be, as it is now thought unlikely we’ll keep climate change down to 1.5 degrees of warming. Our government, along with most of the world, are simply not taking climate change seriously.
We have late summer roses, plenty of marigolds, and Japanese anemones, amidst the falling leaves.