Thursday, November 1, 2007

Who ever heard of Halloween cookies? Yes, I've heard you all pondering this across the miles of "hollow tubes" that separate us. Actually, it's more significant than you might think ("Umm, you like spice cookies?"). M and I are practicing Catholics, but we both bring a significant pagan bent to our religious life. Halloween is the modern interpretation of a pagan festival (Samhain), celebrating the time when the "veil" between the corporeal and spiritual worlds was thinnest. Therefore, welcome spirits of departed friends and family can come back to visit you, but less than welcome visitors are likely to be out haunting as well (who will hopefully be warded off by a scary enough jack-o-lantern). This tradition is clearly reflected in Christian traditions of All Saints and All Souls days (Nov 1 and 2, respectively). This time of year has long been seen as a good time to reflect on our ancestors and remember our roots.

Exactly how we came up with our specific tradition has been lost to the mists of time, but along the way M and I acquired a cookie cutter shaped like a tombstone. Each year around Halloween, we make spice cookie tombstones for all of our "beloved dead". After dinner we take each cookie and talk about the person, remembering fun stories and wonderful qualities about them. For many years we had a sort of party for Samhain, decorating the cookies and sharing stories with our friends (who all made their own tombstones). We're too new to Ann Arbor to have critical mass to take this public yet, but I have no doubt that it will continue to be a tradition in our household.

Anyway, this is a long way to introduce the idea of food as a vehicle for spiritual expression, communion with friends, encouraging communication, etc. Traditions surrounding food can be so rich in meaning. And as usual, I think good food makes almost anything better.

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