This is… Samhuinn?

Hello everyone, and Happy Halloween! It is almost midnight here, but as it will still be Halloween back home when I’m done with this post I’m going to go with it (time differences still amaze me). Halloween isn’t my favorite holiday, but I still absolutely love it. You get to spend time with friends, eat lots of junk food, and pretend to be something or someone else for a day. What’s not to love?

But leading up to Halloween, the only things I heard about were parties (which I’ve never found to be that great and which happen all year round) and a strike for higher wages by university faculty and staff (which I don’t feel qualified to comment on). I haven’t seen a single child out trick-or-treating despite the fact that I live in a residential neighborhood, and there aren’t very many events advertised. This is one of those times when I really lucked out and sort of stumbled upon things to do, rather than purposefully seeking them out.

It all started a few weeks ago…

I decided that in one day I was going to hike Arthur’s Seat, the Salisbury Crags, Calton Hill, and make a loop around the city… an 8-mile hike, all in the morning and early afternoon. As I was heading out of Holyrood Park towards Calton Hill, I began to hear drumming. I hadn’t heard of any sort of event, but I thought perhaps it was a parade or some such. I kept getting closer and closer, and the drums got louder and louder as I went up…

Here's Calton Hill, by the way... in the rain, but you get the idea.
Here’s Calton Hill, by the way… in the rain, but you get the idea.

I went to the top and… nothing. No drummers, no sign anywhere of them. So I gave up and went to meet my flatmates at Greyfriar’s Bobby for a walking tour (a walking tour after an 8-mile walk? Yea. It was a Harry Potter walking tour. I’m crazy) AND I FOUND THE DRUMMERS. They were performing in the Princes Street Gardens, where there are often concerts, but I wouldn’t have thought I could here them so far away! They were really good, too.


Later that night, I saw one of the people who had been performing in the Meadows. Because I am nosy and not at all shy I walked right up to her and complimented the drummers and asked what group they were from. Lo and behold, she was from Georgia, heard me say “y’all,” and we got a full-on conversation going… but more pertinent to tonight, she was rehearsing as part of the Beltane Fire Society for Samhuinn, the pagan tradition that celebrates the end of summer and the coming of winter. Well, I found out what I’m doing for Halloween! (Sadly there are no pictures of that because I was dumb and forgot to put the battery back in my camera, but look them up! They’re really cool!)

So I got all dressed up a few days ago for a costume dinner, baked a lot of pastries instead of buying candies in the lead-up to Halloween, and celebrated a pagan holiday that is apparently the origin of Halloween on one of the chilliest nights thus far… a fitting day for winter to triumph over summer in their eternal battle. Not my usual routine, but certainly not bad!


How to tell if you have a hot spot in your oven: 1. Make awesome pumpkin sugar cookies. 2. Put in oven. 3. Be sad when they all come out at different temperatures...
How to tell if you have a hot spot in your oven:
1. Make awesome pumpkin-shaped sugar cookies.
2. Put in oven.
3. Be sad when they all come out differently…
Cupcakes from the baking society meeting... I mainly worked on the spiders, but all three are quite delicious!
Cupcakes from the baking society meeting… I mainly worked on the spiders, but all three are quite delicious!
And finally... pumpkin spice pull-apart bread!
And finally… slightly over-done pumpkin spice pull-apart bread! (Curse you hot spots!)

And now if you’ll excuse me, I’m off to watch “It’s the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown.” Have a wonderful Samhuinn!