Halloween is a fun time for children and adults alike. Traditionally, in the United States, we trick-or-treat for candy, filling our stomachs with sweet treats like Hershey’s, Mars bars, and Butterfingers – all while looking like ghosts, goblins and ghouls. But travel is all about trying something different. Diversify your palette while celebrating other cultures, and indulge in these culinary treats from around the world.
England’s Halloween goes back to the ancient Celtic festival of Samhain, which literally translates to “summer’s end.” It marks the completion of the harvest and the start of the dark months. Over the years, England has adopted American traditions, adding a few fun twists of their own. Get your sweet tooth on while expanding your Halloween horizons with a few of these English treats.
Bonfire Toffee: A little crunch with a sweet finish – what’s not to love? Bonfire Toffee’s sweet flavor comes from the combination of molasses and butterscotch. If you’re feeling adventurous, try the homemade version, made into sheets and then shattered with a hammer for a fun dramatic effect.
The Irish are said to throw the most memorable and massive Halloween parties. Their celebrations include apple cake, barmbrack, soulcakes, nuts, apples, and several black cat superstitions to keep you on your toes.
Barmbrack: A delicious Irish fruitcake with a bit of mystique and surprises. Baked within the cake, you’ll find hidden coins, buttons, rings and other future-predicting charms. Coins symbolize wealth, rings predict a marriage proposal and buttons equal bachelorhood. When the festivities are done, locals leave a slice outside before going to bed. The spirits and faeries love a piece of cake and will trade you good luck in return.
Soulcakes: Enjoy these sweet round cakes that are named after the ancient tradition of Souling, a term used to describe the impoverished roaming the streets, exchanging prayers and songs for these special treats. It’s credited as the origin of “trick-or-treating.” Celebrating the fall season with flavors like allspice, nutmeg, cinnamon and ginger, it’s the ideal blend for the perfect festive treat. Take a bite out of these spooky little cakes which define the history of Halloween in Ireland.
The Italians have melded their own folklore into American customs. For instance, on All Saint’s Day, children receive cookies and gifts from the dead who leave them in socks, much like a Christmas stocking. In the southern region of Puglia, some families even have picnics in graveyards – a true ghoulish twist on traditional Halloween festivities.
Ossa Dei Morti: The name literally translates to “Bones of the Dead.” They are crunchy little bone-shaped biscuits enjoyed by families throughout the country. Made from ground almonds, powdered sugar and egg whites, they are a yummy treat that pairs great with a sweet Italian wine and a good ghost story.
In the spiritual land of Mexico, Dia de Los Muertos is celebrated annually to honor the spirits of the dead. In customs that have become world famous, they decorate altars with colorful flowers, gifts, sweets, pan de muerto, and sugar skulls. The grander the offering the more their loved ones know they care.
Pan De Muerto: Is the official bread of Dias de Los Muertos. It’s a sweet round bread that is topped with bone shaped decorations and sometimes arranged in a circle to represent the circle of life.
Sugar Skulls: Ornate and opulent, these sugar skulls are delicious as well as beautiful. It is said that they represent the vitality of life and an individual’s personality. They are not meant to be viewed as scary, but as a vibrant celebration of the beauty in this life.