It’s nearly Halloween! We love this mantel display because fun as it can be, Halloween is not always the most stylish or tasteful festival. Orange and black is a difficult combination to pull off, even without spiders, severed limbs and chocolate eyeballs!
So why orange and black? The black bit is straightforward – black means night and darkness. One theory about the orange is that it is the colour of undyed beeswax candles, which were used for church services on All Hallow’s Day to commemorate the dead. Another is that it is the colour of harvest and that with the black, it symbolises the end of the agricultural year, the ‘death’ of the earth and the darkness of winter. The reason that orange is a Halloween colour though is probably nothing to do with pumpkins…
Halloween originated in the Celtic festival of Samhain on 1st November, which was effectively a new year celebration but also a time when it was believed that the souls of the dead could come back to earth. The early Christian church made the same day All Hallow’s Day as part of an attempt to use existing celebrations to help spread Christianity and gradually the more Celtic elements of witches and ghosts found their place on 31st October – Hallow’s Eve. But the ancient Celts did not have pumpkins. Carving lanterns is traditional, but the originals would have been turnips:
Not only are they much smaller than pumpkins, they have a hard woody texture and are much harder to carve. So turnips might be traditional and there is something a it spooky about them, but for practical and aesthetic reasons we are more than happy to go with lovely orange pumpkins!
And of course, fast becoming a new tradition: novelty pasta!