Halloween 2015

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Halloween is upon us again. Orange is the new black. And so is black...Pumpkins are everywhere, skulls adorn the shop windows and witches lurk around every corner. Autumn is here, and in the UK, Halloween has become something of an autumn celebration, an excuse to bake Halloween biscuits, scoop out juicy pumpkins and dress up for a bit of fun. The origins of Halloween are a lot more interesting.

Did you know that bats are a symbol of Halloween because they used to fly around the fires at Samhain, the ancient Celtic harvest festival? They believed that the bats were the spirits of the dead. As Christianity spread, the festival coincided and merged with All Saints Eve, (All Hallows) when alms would be handed out to the poor - treats without the tricks. The pagan and Christian traditions, stirred up with a bit of Victorian Gothic and cinnamon, travelled across the Atlantic and returned as the Halloween we now have, a mixture of gift giving (and taking),  dressing up and, of course, a massive retail opportunity...

Kids love Halloween. So do many grown-ups. Are you celebrating? Dressing up? There are some incredible costumes available now, some just too realistic. Fancydressball online even sell zombie contact lenses if you need a very detailed costume. Cute costumes for littlies are available from the supermarkets at very reasonable prices - try Asda and Tesco. I have even seen costumes for pets with glow-in-the-dark skeletons on Amazon.

What could you bake? Shaped pastry cutters are cool. I've just bought some bat ones to add to my collection of ghosts, witches and pumpkin shaped cutters. There are Halloween cupcake cases, display plates - you name it, you can get it. Cake pops are popular at the moment - these make an interesting alternative to sweets for the kids and are more fun to make. Check out the cake pop maker at Lakeland and the recipe on BBC Good Food for 'eyeballs' if you're looking for something a bit more creepy. I saw a recipe for making 'worms' too - just pour liquid jelly through bendy straws and leave to set...to set them free just pour warm water over them. Fab!

Pumpkin carving kits are fun and you can create really professional looking designs quite easily by using the templates provided. Scarily, there are even pumpkin carving power tools available for a more sophisticated carved fruit. Order online and use our door-to-door tracked delivery service. If you can't get hold of pumpkins where you are, try carving melon or vegetables like turnip or swede.

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