Celebrating For People Who Really Need It: the Night of the Dead
Halloween is definitely my favourite holiday of the whole year. No affected sentimentality, a commercialization not going overboard (I can live with candy & costumes in every store) … and finally, FINALLY a holiday not hijacked by religious freaks! Just a good time to have… both for children and adults with the best decorations of the year!
And it's also a holiday that still has some of its original meaning and symbolism. A lot of it comes from the Celtic Samhain, a celebration of the dead and a tribal bonding experience before the new year starts (the year started on November 1st for the Celts). The belief was that the spirits of the dead were allowed back among the living on that night and food & entertainment were provided to divert the spirits from creating mischiefs. Another tradition of the Celts was to create a huge bonfire with cattle bones thrown in ceremoniously (for the etymology aficionados, bonfire comes from those Celts bone-fires). All other lights were extinguished in the village and then each family took a torch from the bonfire to lit up their hearth, fostering community spirit and insuring the purity of everyone's fire.
Even though there is much less documentation, the Norse also had what seems to be a similar holiday where offerings were made to keep elves and other spirits at bay while torches & candles were lit at the doorstep to let the elves know this house was occupied and not a place they could settle in.
It's not much of a stretch to have kids dress up as the spirits and other characters and gather the offerings themselves… instead of letting those spoil untouched. You always hear people whine about how Halloween is so commercial and everything… but it seems pretty symbolic to me.
I also like the Halloween decorations! It looks great, much cooler than Christmas stuff… though I guess you have to be in the suburbs to really get the full effects. Not too much going on in the city for Halloween.
When I was a kid, we lived in a high rise building downtown so there wasn't much decoration possible and there were some people giving out candy in the building but not a majority… and anyways, walking down the halls and using the elevators going floor after floor is pretty lame.
My brother & I whined and whined about that and finally my parents relented and from that year on, they would drive us to the suburbs and we would trick or treat there, doing an actual rounds through streets of a neighbourhood, enjoying all the work people put on those decorations in their yard and stuff. It was a great time!
Now! Enough of this history lesson & sentimental childhood reminiscing… time for Martha Stewart's Halloween special!
HOW TO HAVE A MAAAAARVELOUS HALLOWEEN PARTY
Welcome my little faeries and goblins, today we will discuss how to have a successful Halloween party. First, I'd say dressing up in costumes might sound like a good idea but remember that puking in the toilet bowl with that 3 feet tall magician hat isn't a piece of cake! And the shame of realizing somebody else had the same idea and dressed as Harry Potter, Tinker Bell or Cleopatra! So much better to eschew the costumed party in favour of the goth party. Have everybody dress up in black and don't go cheap on the eyeliner! Put all your piercings back on (btw Martha has a nipple ring), apply some white powder and dance the night away listening to Rob Zombie.
Queens of the undead, vampires, zombies, frankensteins and other wholesome characters of the same vein should be allowed in. It creates a wonderful atmosphere for a party, less whacky than a regular costumed party while still letting people dress up and act crazy.
As for food and drinks, Martha Steward recommends:
Serve Crispy Bat Wings dipped in their entrails
(Black Tortilla Chips or Algae chips and Salsa)
But the most important is the alcohol! No beer, cosmos or regular boring shots allowed on this night! Thankfully, Dionysos and his minions have provided us with many recipes perfect for the occasion.
The drink of choice is of course the Green Faery! Also called Absinthe. Unfortunately, due to its incredibly high alcohol content and cirrhosis-inducing effects, Absinthe was banned in most countries in the early 20th century. A sad affair since it seems real absinthe would cause hallucinations and visions (if you were not knocked out cold by the alcohol content).
Oscar Wilde, who had a lifelong mistress in absinthe, wrote, "After the first glass you see things as you wish they were. After the second, you see things as they are not. Finally you see things as they really are, and that is the most horrible thing in the world."
Absinthe is made by having wormwood soaked into vodka for a few days (which releases the THC present in wormwood) then the vodka is mixed with some other seeds & roots and left to age for a week. I wouldn't recommend you make this yourself, better leave it to a professional who knows his business. There are now a bunch of fake absinthe products for sale almost anywhere. The stuff is quite nasty to drink though.
Thankfully, there are other drinks to liven up your Halloween party!
Let's start with the always popular flaming drinks:
- B-52 are tasty drinks made of Kahlua, Bailey's & Cointreau. Lay the ingredients in that order being careful not to mix the la
- Flaming Dragon: my favourite flaming drink made with Green Chartreuse and Bacardi 151. Drink as a shot after blowing the flame and then exhale through your mouth, watching the dragon breathe through you!
And we repeat... blow out the flame BEFORE you slam the shot down!
For a real Halloween drink, look no further than the Vampire's Kiss. A healthy mix of Gin, Tequila, Vodka & Tomato Juice served in a tall glass not only looks but will feel warmer than real blood going down your throat!
And now, for the piece of resistance: a drink that will leave you bent in half, saying never again I will have one of those! Sadly, it's not because of the strength of the drink but due to its disgusting nature and texture in your mouth… and the fact it taste like drinking a can of fruit punch without the required 3 cans of water added!
Strawberry Schnapps (a good 3 fingers), a float of Bailey's on top and Grenadine. Let the Grenadine go one drop at a time, watching it gently falls to the bottom. Stop when you have a nice blob formed or the person you are making the drink for has eyes bigger than a shot glass. Disgustingly Halloweeny!
Well, little faeries and goblins, that's all Martha Stewart has for you today. Next time, Martha will show you how to make a tv show so boring even Kathie Lee is ashamed to say she watches it.