Halloween Food Rituals

Our family's "Wild Pumpkin Dance"

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By David Hammond

Halloween can be considered the first of the three American harvest festivals, alongside Thanksgiving and Christmas. All Saints Day, also called All Hallows or Hallowmas, has been celebrated with a feast throughout much of Roman Catholic history.

Candy is maybe not thought of as “food,” but it is food, of course, and no holiday is so dedicated as Halloween to the furious pursuit of food.

My family has developed a ritual, performed every October in anticipation of Halloween. It’s called the “Wild Pumpkin Dance,” and it goes a little like this:

1. Carve pumpkins

2. Place candle-lit pumpkins around the darkened living room

3. Dance about the living room, banging on pots and pans, howling

4. At some point, fall silent, walk out the front door and place pumpkins on porch

5. Move to front sidewalk to admire the scariness of the pumpkins

We’ve performed this ritual for over twenty years. The kids (now all in their twenties) still seem to enjoy the annual event; sometimes, they bring friends to participate and marvel at what they apparently feel is an odd and idiosyncratic practice.

Somewhat surprisingly, it turns out I never photographed this event (too wrapped up in the ritual), and thus this is one of the few blog entries of mine that carries no photographic evidence. I guess you have to be there to see it.

Do you have any Halloween rituals you’d like to share?


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