Four maple wood laser cut cookie stamps for Hallowe’en.
These stamps have been tested through 10 dozen cookies but it is important to remember that wood has grain and being gentle while pushing down at narrow points is important.
Hallowe’en is a North American celebration. Now that doesn’t mean it doesn’t have deep roots in Celtic history but the way it is celebrated is unique to this part of the world. Let’s take a look at some of the symbols we hold dear.
Firstly Jack-O-Lanterns! From the Irish legend of Stingy Jack comes the story of a man who tricked the Devil too many times and when he died he was barred from both heaven or hell. The Devil did give him a lump of coal that Jack kept in a hollowed out turnip as he forever wanders the Earth. When the tale was brought to North America by early immigrants and pumpkins were discovered, a switch was made from turnips to pumpkins as they were so much easier to prepare.
Cats are nocturnal animals as anyone blessed to have one in their home will attest. It is easy to see how they would be associated with the night. So highly regarded were black cats in ancient Egypt, it was a crime to kill one. Today however, we have superstitions that suggest one walking across your path is bad luck. Keep your kitties safe inside on Hallowe’en night.
Full moons at Hallowe’en are rare. In fact there are only six this entire century so it is more likely to see a crescent moon at Hallowe’en.
The connection of cauldrons to witches also comes out of Irish mythology but the tradition of cauldron use was almost universal. Almost every home in days gone by had a cauldron in the hearth for a very practical use, feeding the family. Today it is seen more a pot for stewing potions and that can be attributed to several lines from the Scottish play by William Shakespeare. “Double, double toil and trouble; Fire burn and caldron bubble”
There was an ancient belief that a person’s soul went into an old crone’s cauldron to be stirred until it was born anew. From this tale comes the connection between cauldron and womb.
Hallowe’en apple traditions have their roots in the peels and the pips. In one tradition, while young women helped with the making and preserving of apple butter, she tried to keep the peel in one long curl. When she were finished, it would be tossed over her shoulder and revealed the first letter of her husband’s name. As people immigrated from Europe the pips of their favourite apples came right along and the associated traditions continued here. In bobbing for apples, the apples were secretly marked. As the possible sweethearts ducked and caught the fruit by their teeth, future couplings were said to be foretold.
In a time of year when everything was dying, apples were seen as a sign of hope.
It is best to use a recipe with little or no large extra bits. Spices, extracts and zest are fine but chopped nuts and dried fruits can be more challenging to work with. The cookies in the picture below have a bit of added orange zest.
Roll out dough of your chosen recipe and cut circles either with a glass or scalloped edge cookie cutter.
Tap stamp in flour and push down into the center of the precut cookie.
Sugar cookies are traditionally taken from the oven before they brown but since these cookie will not be iced, I personally prefer to get them just a little golden around the edges. That will mean a little paying attention so as not to over bake.
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