Friday, October 29, 2010

Weekend Reads: High Brow Halloween {Traditions, Confections & Collections}


While we carved pumpkins last night my husband asked where "Jack O' Lanterns" came from and I told him about an old Irish Myth. My facts were a little murky and my husband was laughing at me ("What? Seriously? You know the story?") Of course I know the story - that's my bag, man!

Since you might be interested in a few interesting tidbits as well I'll give you my two favorites:

Find out how Jack O' Lantern managed to irritate both god and the devil.
via Urban Threads (Get the tutorial here!)

Regarding witches - well I can't find a singular resource so I'll have to do my own little rehash of something I heard a few years back. (NPR?)

Essentially it goes like this - what we now call witches were more like ancient healers and people trained in natural brews, concoctions, herbal remedies, etc. Before the Roman Church took over the brewing reigns Celts and other early civilizations did their fair share of brewing. Ok, long story very, very short - beer was sold at the markets and in order to stand out/be easy to find it is thought that the brewers, often women, wore tall hats that could be seen about the crowd, hence a tall, pointed witch hat. The pointed style of the hat could be attributed to the style of the day, or the type of hat typically worn by someone in that specific industry - not sure. Either way the tall, pointed hat was like an early neon sign - "Beer Here!".

Recently Em and I were discussing this whole thing while he was making a homebrew and was preparing the "wort". I remarked that perhaps this is where the idea of witches having "warts" came from. Perhaps. No idea if that is true but interesting to ponder.

Eventually and obviously witches and herbal-based healers got a bad reputation and along with it went their garb. The stigma stayed attached and the witches hat became a symbol of that stigma, more so than its original and actual use.

On to the weekend reads/links!

Halloween Confections:

Spider Cookies from Sweetapolita

Amazing Ghost Cake from I Am Baker

Scary Silhouette Cake also from I am Baker

Day of the Dead Skulls from Vosges

High Class Halloween
Modern day Red Riding Hood from Mrs Lilien

Heirloom Quality Papercut from Mr.Yen - use it again and again!

More autumn than Halloween - but there are pumpkins and eye candy - Inspired Room

A Classy Gothic Wedding  - The Sweetest Occasion

Have you scared up some crafty ideas this year?  Have a happy Halloween, Autumn-Filled Weekend!


homesprout said...

I love your pictures of the pumpkins! Very nice:)

k said...

I'm impressed that you know all of that off the top of your head! I probably should...

Kate L said...

Hmmmm... this theory of the witches' hat as sign for beer sales set off my decorative arts snob radar. Do you have a source for that story?

The origins of a witch wearing a 'pointy' hat seem to have their beginning of the Victorian era. Previously, witches were portrayed often with loose hair, or as hooded figures. Conical hats were fashionable in the 15th century (called the hennin- perhaps it was a holdover in rural areas?) but by the 1600's and the witch trials those outmoded hats would have been nonexistent.

The association with brewing is interesting- I'm wondering if this idea has been promoted by breweries and since has entered the realm of 'common knowledge'.

Tricia said...

Kate - I want to say I heard it on Splendid Table but I'm not sure. I know it was of some NPR was so striking I remembered it and discussed it with an alcohol-industry friend who apparently already knew the story. There are a number of "witches brew" beers out there but I'm not sure if that has to do with that or Miles Davis...

Also, I don't know that the name "witch" and the hat style were necessarily negatively associated until much later. From what I understand the beer brewing "witches" who wore the hats were not considered or named witches but were the name lineage or natural/herbal healers...get what I mean?