ALL SAINTS’ EVE, HALLOWEEN, & PUMPKIN MUFFINS WITH CHOCOLATE CHIPS AND MEDIEVAL SPICES

My spiritual upbringing was sorely lacking in the department of information. I didn’t even know that All Saints’ Day existed until well into adulthood and regular Episcopal church attendance. When I was a kid, Halloween was right up there with Christmas and Easter because of all the candy. But there is a lot more to this holiday than costumes and candy. Halloween is the Eve of the important holy day, much like Christmas Eve is to Christmas Day. Somewhere along the secular way, Halloween became the more celebrated holiday. I mean, to the point that many people don’t know anything about All Saints’ Day at all.

Parents, you gotta teach your kids the whole story:

The Feast of All Saints is November 1. It’s an Holy Day of Obligation in the Roman Catholic Church. Many Anglican (including Episcopal), Lutheran, and Methodist churches of Western Orthodoxy celebrate the Feast of All Saints, November 1, and the Feast of All Souls, November 2, together on the first Sunday after, as it’s a Principal Feast. Eastern Orthodoxy celebrate many of same feasts as Western Orthodoxy but utilize a different church calendar, so their celebration of All Saints falls on the first Sunday after Pentecost.

All Saints’ Day was founded in the early Middle Ages by Pope Gregory III, and is a way to honor and remember all the Holy Saints together on one day, plus the ordinary saints.

Ordinary saints are those for whom Christ died — all Christians. We are a part of the Communion of Saints, here now on earth and later when we enter heaven. We share this spiritual space — or Mystical Body with Jesus as the head, with all Christians living and dead. This includes Blessed Mother Mary and the Saints, as well as our personal saints – the souls of our departed family and friends. That’s why All Souls’ Day is celebrated either with or directly after All Saints’ Day.

All Souls’ Day is usually celebrated in church with the reading of names of those who have died, particularly during the last year, with special honor and prayers said for their sake. The combined celebration of All Souls’ Day and All Saints’ Day reminds us that just like we ask living people to pray to God with us, we can ask our personal saints in heaven and the Saints to pray with us.

Continue reading about the celebration of all the saints on one day here.

Also, I beg you, teach your children the script for Trick or Treating:

Children: Trick or Treat!

Person answering door with a bowlful of candy: Happy Halloween!

Children: Thank you!

Herein lies the end of my lecture. Have fun out there and Happy Halloween!

Here’s your treat:

Pumpkin Muffins with Chocolate Chips and Medieval Spices

1 cup unbleached all-purpose flour

1 cup old-fashioned oat meal

3 tablespoons ground flax seed

¾ cup sugar

2 teaspoons baking POWDER

½ teaspoon salt

1 teaspoon Pumpkin Pie Spice*

½ cup or 1 stick of butter, melted and cooled slightly

2 eggs

½ cup milk

1 teaspoon vanilla

1 cup canned pumpkin (or homemade pumpkin puree)

1 cup chocolate chips (ideally, fair trade)

Topping:

1 tablespoon sugar

1 tablespoon light brown sugar

1 teaspoon Pumpkin Pie Spice

*Pumpkin Pie Spice = 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon, 1/2 teaspoon ground ginger, ¼ teaspoon ground nutmeg, 1/8 teaspoon ground cloves, 1/8 teaspoon ground allspice.

Preheat oven to 375 degree. Grease a 12-cup muffin pan.

Combine flour, oatmeal, flax seed, sugar, baking POWDER, salt, and 1 teaspoon Pumpkin Pie Spice in a large bowl.

Whisk butter, eggs, milk, and vanilla together in a small bowl.

Add pumpkin and stir. Stir wet ingredients into dry ingredients. Stir in chocolate chips.

Divide batter evenly among muffin cups.

In a small bowl, mix sugar, light brown sugar, and Pumpkin Pie Spice. Sprinkle mixture on top of each muffin.

Bake 25 to 30 minutes until toothpick inserted into the middle of a muffin comes out clean or with dry crumbs.

Cool slightly before popping out of muffin pan and serving.

Bonus Material:

Pumpkin Pie Spice is a combination of spices that taste great in Pumpkin Pie AS WELL AS Apple Pie, or Elven Lembas BreadThree Kings CakeApple CrispHearty Oatmeal CookiesCarrot Spice Bread, or Hazelnut Bread.

I would go so far as to say that Pumpkin Pie Spice can be swapped out with Cinnamon in many recipes, as it’s mostly Cinnamon with a little kick anyway — Indigo MuffinsMaple Walnut Cookies, Modern-Day Greek PancakesApple Berry Upside Down CakeHoney-Glazed ZeppoleVersatile Barley BreadHearty Pancakes, and Applesauce.

I call them Medieval Spices because in the early Middle Ages, spices were so rare and precious, people carried them on their person in tiny pouches and traded them like money, or collected them as gifts for loved ones. Eventually, the spices were used in the cooking of a feast day meal. On these feast days, fruit, spices, and sugars were mixed into dishes made with game meat such as mincemeat pie.

St. Bebe the Venerable (675-735 AD) was known to be a collector of spices, recipes, histories, and biographies. I thank him for the above information, and he’ll be the subject of a future post.

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