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Autumn Time is for Remembrance of Souls

Beginning of November also marks the beginning of Autumn in the Northern Hemisphere.  Autumn is a time when nature prepares to go to winter sleep before it’s revived again in Spring.  The cycle of life and death with the Winter and Spring has impacted the cultures in all parts of the world.  Totally isolated and dissimilar cultures have celebrations and observations that relate to the passage of seasons.

In Autumn, when the earth prepares to hibernate under the white blankets and sheets of snow, humans are reminiscent of their dead ancestors.  Thoughts turn to death as the light of day becomes scarce.  On October 31st, the Pagan holiday All-Hallow’s Eve is celebrated.  It’s said that on the eve of October 31st, the spirits of the dead can walk the earth for a brief time between dusk until dawn.

Catholic Religion has chosen to honour the Pagan celebration by adapting holidays around All-Hallow’s Eve.  November 1st is All Saints Day and November 2nd is All Souls Day.  Spirits of Saints and dead ancestors are remembered on these dates respectively.

In the Latin Americas, predominantly in Mexico, November 1st and 2nd are Day of the Dead.  Colorful skeleton and dead paintings adorn every shop window, wall and mural to remind the living of the dead.

Similar celebrations are observed in Spring to celebrate coming back to life.  Jesus is said to have arisen from the dead on Easter.  Easter always falls in Spring in the Northern Hemisphere and is a time of revival for all species.  Birds’ eggs hatch, animals give birth and life has again reclaimed dominance.

In the Balkans Hidrellez is a celebration of Spring and in the Middle East Newrooz is very similarly celebrated.  However, they are celebrated a few weeks apart as the season of Spring hits during different times due to geographical location and Earth’s tilt.

Nature and seasons have been an integral part of life and to this day they play an important role in our motivations, moods and behaviours.  No matter what language, religion or cultural background, we are all influenced by seasonal variations.


Comforting Autumn Foods

As the nature dons its autumn hues, deep reds, oranges, browns and yellows, the food that comes to our tables also shows up in those familiar colours of autumn. Think corns, pumpkins, squashes, carrots. These foods are all rich in beta-keratin, which gives them the beautiful colours and also supplements our immune system during this critical time of seasonal transition. Some of the yummiest comfort foods can be made from pumpkins, corn, carrots, which all have a pleasently sweet-ish flavor that works well in savories and sometimes sweets.

Pumpkin soup rich with nutmeg and spices is a well known and liked soup with the English speaking people originating from Europe but did you know that you can make a delicious pumpkin jam? The Pumpkin jam is a quintessential crowning desert of New Year’s feasts in many Turkish homes. It is best served with walnuts and a bit of rich buttermilk. Today, I will illustrate how to make it as it is very simple and requires only butternut squash, sugar, water and walnuts. Simply cut the butternut squash into chunks, put it in a boiler, add some suhgar, wait for it to release its juices and start boiling in a bit of water until the squash has softened and soaked in the syrup.

Chunks of Butternut squash

Squash giving off their juice in the sugar

Lovely smell of boiling butternut squash in syrup

Sprinkle the jam with walnuts and voila!