All Hallows' Eve, Samhain, Colcannon Night: Halloween had many different costumes in NL.

All Hallows’ Eve, Samhain, Colcannon Night: Halloween had many different costumes in NL.

It is spooky season once more, so we’ll quickly see a slew of superheroes, tiny Ted Lassos, and all of the previous vigils — witches, vampires, and creepy clowns — knocking on the door. But, as acquainted as Halloween could appear in Newfoundland and Labrador, it seemed very totally different.

A 1902 version of a St. John’s newspaper, the Night Telegram, known as Halloween “Colcannon’s evening” and reported that “divination, fortune-telling, and different video games have been all a part of the enjoyable. The city was full of life final evening with events.”

A fast dive into Memorial College’s people archives reveals first-hand accounts of Halloween within the Thirties and Nineteen Forties in Trinity Bay. Right here, Halloween wasn’t about treats or methods. As an alternative, individuals stayed up late and stared on the ocean, hoping to see the twinkling lights of ghost ships and listen to their chains of thunder.

Jillian Gould, an affiliate professor of folklore at Memorial College, believes one of the vital thrilling issues concerning the holidays is that they are at all times on the transfer.

“We prefer to assume that vacation customs are static – that they do not change – however they do. No one picked Halloween and moved it to July, however aside from that, the identify of the vacation, the meals traditions and harm-making has modified,” she mentioned.

This is a little bit of Halloween historical past in Newfoundland.

Halloween could have had totally different traditions over time, however today it is usually all about carving pumpkins. (Radio Canada)

The identify of the celebration

Many students have related fashionable Halloween celebrations with Samhain (pronounced “sow-in” – “sow” as in feminine pig), a pageant celebrated millennia in the past when the traditional Celts lit bonfires and carried costumes to scare away ghosts and hobgoblins. Samhain marked the top of the harvest and the start of the darkish half of the yr.

The identify All Hallows Eve is linked to the Christian vacation of All Saints Day on November 1. Like Samhain, All Hallows Eve celebrations have been marked by bonfires, feasts, ghost tales and costumes. It’s extensively believed that the Catholic Church was making an attempt to interchange the Celtic pageant with a church-approved model.

The identify of the vacation has modified a number of occasions in Newfoundland and Labrador, and the information are full of various names for October 31.

All Hallows’ Eve, Samhain, Colcannon Night time, All Saints’ Eve and Snap Apple Night time are among the most blatant. In rural Newfoundland and Labrador, the times main as much as Halloween are typically known as “mischief nights”. In different communities, Bonfire Night time is intertwined with Halloween traditions.

“There is a false impression that everybody in Newfoundland and Labrador celebrated the vacations the identical method and shared traditions, however it may be very regional,” Gould mentioned.

“What occurred in Ramea could possibly be very totally different from what occurred in Bonavista. There’s a important regional distinction in traditions that isn’t sufficiently explored.”

A group of four children in an old color image - one dressed as Smurf, one as Cookie Monster and two as clowns.
An undated photograph from Memorial College Folks Archives exhibits among the costumes from Newfoundland’s more moderen Halloween historical past. (Memorial College Folks Archives)


In elements of Eire, colcannon, a dish made with mashed potatoes, kale and butter, was a giant a part of the October 31 festivity. Social gathering hosts hid prizes and charms within the colcannon that was alleged to predict the long run. Discovering a coin signaled wealth, a thimble or button indicated you’d die friendless and alone, otherwise you would possibly uncover a hoop, which meant you’d be married inside a yr.

As soon as the dish arrived on the rocky shores of Newfoundland, the recipe modified and the celebration hosts used mashed turnips and cabbage.

Fortune telling, nonetheless? It remained the identical.

On November 1, 1896, the St. John’s newspaper, the Day by day Information, reported: “A Cauld Cannon celebration given by Miss O’Neil of the West Finish was a most fulfilling affair — greater than 20 {couples} sat down for the meal. A younger girl from a Water Avenue guide and stationery retailer discovered the ring. Though nobody has acknowledged discovering the button, it’s claimed {that a} sure younger girl, lower than a mile from Queen’s Avenue, had it however didn’t possess it.

A page from an old newspaper, including Halloween recipes.
An October 31, 1933 version of the Western Star newspaper included Halloween recipes. (Andie Bulman/CBC)

Fortune-telling by means of meals would possibly make you consider pancake suppers or King Cake, a brightly coloured confection studded with cash and thimbles, usually eaten at Mardi Gras.

“There’s one thing comparable in these traditions,” Gould mentioned. “Mardi Gras is a carnival, a time of transgression and costumes, that shares so much with Halloween, so I am not stunned to see a connection between these meals traditions.”

Though there are nonetheless colcannon recipes and references to colcannon nights in private accounts within the Thirties and Nineteen Forties, Halloween recipes and mentions of Halloween meals started to alter in Earth diaries. -New.

These two recipes from the October 30, 1933 version of the Western Star are of specific curiosity to Gould.

Black Cat Sandwiches

Boil and grind half a dozen sausages.

Toss with chutney, chili sauce, ketchup or chow chow pickles and unfold on rye or brown bread.

Reduce the sandwiches with a cat-shaped cookie cutter or with a pointy knife.

apple ketchup

Wipe, peel, core 12 bitter apples.

Put in a saucepan, carry to a boil and simmer till tender. Virtually all of the water needs to be evaporated.

To every quart of apple pulp, add the next: 1 cup sugar, 1 tbsp. pepper, 1 tsp. cloves, 1 tbsp. mustard, 1 tsp. salt.

Add 2 finely chopped onions and a couple of cups of cider vinegar.

Deliver it to a boil.

Cork the bottle and warmth seal.

“Once I research recipes, I take into consideration who the recipe was for and the intent,” Gould mentioned. “Black cat sandwiches appear to be a neighborhood, reasonably priced model of a fragile dough sandwich, so this could possibly be a recipe for an grownup Halloween cocktail.”

“What’s fascinating concerning the ketchup recipe are the bitter apples. The creator might be referring to these little, virtually oval apples that develop in elements of Newfoundland. This recipe could possibly be for a cocktail. It is It is about celebrating Halloween, but it surely’s additionally about utilizing what’s close by Older meals and recipes are an amazing perspective on the previous.

Earlier than there have been pumpkins, turnips have been carved into pumpkins for Halloween. (Submitted by Sharon Tulk)

Lanterns, ghosts, methods and treats

Whereas right this moment’s smiling jack-o’-lanterns are carved into pumpkins, spookily engraved turnips have been as soon as commonplace in Newfoundland and Labrador.

This custom of carving a turnip comes from the Celtic story of Stingy Jack, who deceived the satan for cash and riches. Stingy Jack (seemingly) roamed the Earth on October 31, and other people have been lighting their turnip lanterns to scare him away from properties.

An enchanting Halloween report in Ramea within the Fifties mentions that trick-or-treating had solely existed in that city for 4 years. Earlier than that, younger youngsters wandered round with carved turnips or tin cans lit by candles, whereas the older boys of Ramea set fireplace to a boot, positioned it on a giant stick and spent Halloween wandering, eradicating fences and wreaking havoc.

One other report from Ramea tells a extra fanciful model of Halloween.

“In Ramea, at midnight on Halloween, many youngsters believed that witches have been popping out and sweeping the cobwebs of the celebs.”

Gould mentioned recordings like this reveal what may need been important on the time, but in addition the threads that proceed to be important.

“We stay concerned with spooky issues – fortune telling, ghost tales, lanterns and meals. All of it ties into Halloween, however there are adjustments and variations over time. Folks hold events a trip which means one thing to them and the remaining adjustments.”

Learn more about CBC Newfoundland and Labrador

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