October 2017 Fall Edition
This Month - Real Estate, Halloween, Music, Poetry, Gourmet & Victorian Marketplace
THE TRADITIONS OF HALLOWEEN...
For many of us today, Halloween is a commercial tradition made popular in America, where pumpkin-head lanterns in front of doors lure children to come and Trick-or-Treat while dressed as skeletons, witches, or ghosts – and sometimes even Dracula.
But the supernatural or ‘Undead’ do have historical relevance to the origins of Halloween. Once known as Samain or ‘Sow in’, this ancient Celtic festival signified the beginning of the New Year when the harvest had been gathered in and the dread dark winter lay ahead. On its eve, October 31st, the divisions between the living and dead were said to draw back like a curtain, allowing supernatural folk and the souls of the dead to re-enter the world. Bonfires and fancy dress parades might drive the risen dead away. If not, they were placated with food, left in bowls outside locked doors.
The advent of Christianity then appropriated those customs, with ‘All- Hallowmas’ or ‘All Saint’s Day’ revering saints and martyrs instead of ghouls. And yet, as so often when cultures merge, remnants of both traditions remained. The gifts of food became ‘soul cakes’ left out for the homeless and hungry, in return for which they prayed for the dead. (Would our Trick-or-Treaters agree to that?)
Many other old superstitions persisted. American Irish émigrés replaced the carving of turnip heads with pumpkin Jack-o-Lanterns – Jack being the folklore rogue who offended both the Devil and God, thereafter excluded from Heaven and Hell and walking the earth till Judgment Day.
Other Celtic customs were described in Rabbie Burns’ poem, Halloween – in which fairies dance on a moonlit night while youths go out to the countryside, singing songs, telling spooky tales and jokes, or partaking in fortune-telling games; such as eating apples while looking in mirrors and that way creating a magic spell to reveal the face of a future love.
Whether Queen Victoria ever peered into such a mirror, she certainly entered the spirit of things when joining the annual fire-lit procession that took place at Balmoral castle. However, back in England, the rise of the Protestant Church meant that Halloween rituals had fallen away – perhaps explaining Charles Dickens’ shock when he travelled to America and witnessed the general festivities there. But what really piqued his interest, rather than the parties and popular games (such a Pin the Tail on the Donkey, or Blind Man’s Buff, or Bobbing for Apples – when the winner would be the next to wed) was the morbid fascination with ghosts.
It is surely no coincidence that after returning to England he wrote Christmas Carol, in which spirits and future predictions abound. Other established authors went on to peel back age-old layers of myth to reimagine ‘All Hallows’ Eve’ – the genre soon very popular in poetry, art and literature; with tales of children stolen by fairies, or mirrors exposing some ghastly event, or women who wailed by misty graves – and all rendered yet more sinister when
.read by flickering candlelight to provide an eerie atmosphere.
The Victorians reveled in frightening tales. More than that, they embraced the culture of death, many visiting spiritualist mediums, or commissioning spirit photographers; the living duped into the belief that crudely exposed double negatives had captured some vision of their dead: all those veiled apparitions that lingered in shadows, and no longer just at Halloween. The image above is somewhat tongue in cheek, although others were taken more seriously - and the night of October 31st still holds a particular allure. Whether linked to innocent children’s games, or the horror films we view on screens there is nothing quite like a Halloween thrill.
The text of this article was first published in The Independent newspaper.
Nothing Gold Can Stay
Nature’s first green is gold,
Her hardest hue to hold.
Her early leaf’s a flower;
But only so an hour.
Then leaf subsides to leaf.
So Eden sank to grief,
So dawn goes down to day.
Nothing gold can stay.
Enjoy this beautiful AUTUMN inspired music for both relaxation and meditation. Very tranquil and pleasant.
Autumn Spiced Nuts & Cranberries
1/4 cup packed brown sugar
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1 egg white
1 cup salted cashews
1 cup pecan halves
1 cup dry roasted peanuts
1/2 cup dried cranberries
In a small bowl, combine the brown sugar, cinnamon and cayenne; set aside. In a large bowl, whisk egg white; add nuts and cranberries. Sprinkle with sugar mixture and toss to coat. Spread in a single layer on a greased baking sheet.
Bake at 300° for 18-20 minutes or until golden brown, stirring once. Cool. Store in an airtight container. Yield: 3-1/2 cups.
Originally published as Sugar 'n' Spice Nuts in Simple & Delicious November/December 200
The Art of Milled Woodwork in Photos
The warmth and glow of milled oak, walnut and cherry adds to the ambiance of the Victorian era. Nothing is more lovely than preserved woodwork from centuries past.
Victorian Antique Marketplace
Unusual pair of Victorian walnut armchairs with a knight head and various appropriate weapons in an open carved crest. There are carved finials on the top of the turned side posts and open carvings around the upholstered back. The arms have fully carved griffen heads. An applied carving decorates the skirt and the front legs are turned. The upholstery has some age but is generally in good condition. These large chairs are beautifully carved in a very different motif! Circa: 1870. Dimensions: 52″H x 26″W x 29″D. Condition: Some small normal wear nicks in the turnings and carvings. Good original finish with a lovely old patina.
Price: $3250 for the pair!
SPECIAL SALE PRICE: $1450 for pair!
Link for Information: