Halloween Was Fun ~ But Don’t Forget All Saints Day

by Melinda Young

Popular culture is fascinated with Halloween but All Saints Day, which falls the day after Halloween often, gets overlooked.

All Saints Day came first and All Hallows Eve was simply the night before. In fact the first trick or treaters were folks roaming from house to house offering prayers for the dead in exchange for “soul cakes”, little round cakes made of fruits and nuts. 

The Christian festival of All Saints Day comes from a conviction that there is a spiritual connection between those in Heaven and on Earth. In Catholic tradition, the holiday honors all those who have passed on to the Kingdom of Heaven and is a national holiday in numerous historically Catholic countries. 

In Methodist tradition, All Saints Day relates to giving God earnest gratitude for the lives and deaths of his saints, remembering those who were well-known and not. Evangelical churches typically don’t recognize this day and I think they are missing out. In the Methodist church I work for, All Saints Day will be celebrated Sunday, November 3rd. The church will recognize each “saint” or church member that has passed away during the year. The olde bell that stands guard on the front lawn will be rung once for each person that has passed, their names will be called, a candle lit and each one remembered. There is sweetness in honoring those that have gone before. It is part of the ritual of remembering.

So after the candy, the parties, and scary movies of Halloween, take a moment to remember those you have loved and lost ~ not only this year ~ but all those you hold dear that have gone on.  Go to church or stay home, light a candle, say a prayer and remember the “saints” in your life.

A pile of winsome soul cakes.
Photo courtesy of The WonderSmith

I am including a recipe for traditional “soul cakes”: Hallowtide Soul Cakes

“A soule cake, a soule cake, Have mercy on all Christen soules for a soule-cake.”  John Aubrey, 17th century

Ingredients

  • 3/4 cups fresh berries ~ whatever you have on hand
  • 1/2 cup roughly chopped hazelnuts
  • 1 cup brown sugar
  • 1 cup hot strong black tea~ Earl Grey works well
  • 1 large egg
  • 4 tablespoons butter
  • 1 tsp nutmeg
  • 1 tsp cardamom
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • A few tablespoons of chopped candied ginger [optional]
  • Pinch of salt
  • 2 1/2 cups of self rising flour

Directions: Combine berries, nuts, spices and brown sugar. Add the hot tea, stir well, cover and allow to soak for an hour. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease and flour a muffin/cupcake pan. Mix the egg and melted butter into your wet mixture, adding the flour in 1/2 cup batches, beating well after each addition. Pour batter into prepared pan. Bake until toothpick comes out clean, about 45 minutes. Let cool in the pan before turning out.

Recipe from Gather Victoria at gathervictoria.com

Victoria was in search of Halloween food inspiration, and came across these sweet little barmbrack “soul cakes”.   While we may think of all things pumpkin when it comes to Halloween, originally it was magical cakes, berries and nuts (especially hazelnut) that played starring roles in the feasts of “Hallowtide” which ran from October 29th to November 2nd.

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