(click on pictures to enlarge)
Last Friday was the day before Halloween and lots of adults were walking around all dressed up both during the day as well as in the evening. The receptionist at the desk in the hospital where Fidz had an appointment with his pain doctor, was sporting a very elegant black and green spider costume and her coworker was wearing large rabbit ears. It certainly changed the atmosphere in the waiting room. Incidentally, Fidz’s pain is apparently partially neuropathic and an appropriate medication has helped to reduce it, so life is easier than it was.
Traditionally, on the evening of Halloween, a lighted pumpkin (Jack o’ Lantern) is set out by the front door and children know that they are welcome in that house to go trick and treating. Its always nice to walk around a neighbourhood and see the pumpkins but we didn’t have this pleasure. Living in an apartment building, close to many other apartment buildings, there wasn’t a pumpkin to be seen on Halloween night in our neighbourhood.
Some years ago, the vendors and people living on Harbord St. in Toronto started a pumpkin display on the day after Halloween. Trestle tables are set up along the street and people from the surrounding area bring their pumpkins. At nightfall, the pumpkins are lit up and some of the restaurants and cafes give out free samples of food. Although I had lived in this area for many years, the practice only started after I moved to Italy and I had never actually seen it so when my sister invited me for afternoon tea at a cafe called Dessert Trends on Harbord St., I was looking forward to seeing this spectacle later in the evening.
Sunday was warm and sunny and on the way to the cafe, people were gathering the pumpkins. One woman had collected all the pumpkins on her street and brought them to to Harbord in her car.
Decorating Halloween pumpkins has turned into an art form. Not satisfied with carving out a space for eyes, nose and mouth and sticking a candle inside, some people use electric drills and the like to create intricate designs. The owner of Dessert Trends is a master cake maker and his creations, like these on the right, resemble pieces of sculpture.
It was fascinating to see how creative some of the faces and designs were and quite a sight at nightfall when they were all lit up.
The ritual of putting out a Jack o’ Lantern originates in Ireland where a turnip would be carved, lit and placed outside the house on October 31st, All Souls Day, to ward off ghosts and evil spirits. Immigrants to north America brought the practice here but used pumpkins since these are native to north America and much easier to carve. One doesn’t see Halloween celebrated in the same way anywhere else, not even in Ireland, and I was glad to be here at this time of year.