Noah’s pudding and other dessert escapades

While growing up in Turkey, my son celebrated all of the national and religious holidays, with a couple of American ones privately observed at home thrown in for good measure.
Now that we are living in South Texas in a city that has very strong Hic ties, he is learning about holidays that are celebrated in both America and Mexico. In the United States, young children look forward to Halloween, which falls on Oct. 31. When we lived in Turkey, my son watched a few of the scary movies that are often shown around Halloween, as well as other movies that showed children dressed in costumes going from house to house to go and”trick or treating.and” As he was very young, he always wanted to take part in this American tradition, but since it is a relatively unknown holiday in Turkey there was no place for him to go trick or treating.
This year was his first Halloween in America. Many of the students dressed up in costumes at his high school. My son wondered what type of get-up he could wear to school to take part in the tradition. After much thought he decided to go for a humorous outfit, so he donned a red Santa Claus hat, tied a large red stocking to his backpack and wished fellow students and teachers a and”Happy New Year, Merry Christmas, Happy Chanukah and Happy Easter.and” When asked what his costume was, he explained that he was dressed as a confused foreign student for Halloween. It was an appropriate choice for the day and was well received by teachers and students alike.
On the evening of Halloween, when young children were going from door to door, my son sadly wondered aloud if he was now too old to take part in the holiday. Trick or treating is a favorite childrenand’s holiday because it gives them a chance to dress up, go out at night (accompanied by either older siblings or parents) and ring the doorbells of neighbors, shouting and”Trick or treat!and” when the door is opened. This phrase means that the homeowners have a choice of handing out treats to the children or risk being on the receiving end of a trick, which might involve eggs thrown at windows or rolls of toilet paper unfurled around their trees. It is all in good fun and homeowners always have lots of candy ready and they take time to examine the costumes the children proudly wear, many hand-made at home. In short, it is an evening of silliness and a slight bit of scariness as children walk in the dark through pathways decorated with cobwebs, scarecrows, witches and goblins.
Fortunately, one of my sonand’s classmates called and asked him to come over to go trick or treating with him and another friend. He quickly put on his costume from school and went to his friendand’s home, where his parents were dressed up in costumes handing out candy to the neighborhood children coming to the door. As the teenage boys set out to do the rounds in the neighborhood my son tried to act cool, but everyone could tell that he was excited about taking part in this tradition that was new to him. When he returned home that night, he was full of candy and had a small bag of it left that was shared at home over the next few days. He admitted that he was glad to discover that he was not yet too old for trick or treating because it was something he had always wanted to do.
h2 The origins of Halloweenh2 Although many people only view Halloween as a fun holiday, the origins of Halloween are thought to stretch all the way back to pagan times and the Gaelic festival of Samhain. The word Halloween is a contraction of All Hallowsand’ Evening and in many countries, it is part of a three-day religious holiday that includes All Hallowsand’ Evening, All Saintsand’ Day and the Day of the Dead, also known as All Soulsand’ Day.
Because our new city has such a strong Hic culture, All Saintsand’ Day and the Day of the Dead are also important holidays here. In Mexico, Day of the Dead celebrations can be traced back to pre-Columbian culture. Although the ninth month of the Aztec calendar was designated for celebrations, by the 20th century, Nov. 1-2 were set aside in Mexico to honor the dead. Families plan outings to cemeteries and they decorate the graves of their relatives and have a fiesta, or party. Small altars are erected that contain some of the favorite foods and drinks of the deceased, photographs are displayed and stories are told about the lives of those family members who have passed on from this world. Marigolds, often called Flor de Muerto (Flower of the Dead) in Mexico, adorn graves.
A special bread, Pan de Muerto (Bread of the Dead), is baked during these three days. This slightly sweet bread is generally shaped like a small bun, with bone-shaped pieces of bread decorating it to represent the cycle of life. While a bun shape is the most common, the bread is also formed into the shapes of skulls, angels, animals and bones, sometimes with anise seeds or orange water added to the mixture. It is topped with brightly colored icing and decorative skulls made from sugar.
My son was a little confused when candies and breads suddenly appeared in stores in our neighborhood. At his school, the International Studentsand’ Club had a fiesta where these special treats were shared among the members of the club. He found this part of the holiday odd and he arrived home with many questions about this new attitude towards death. When he visited the graves of family members with the Turkish half of his family, it was a somber event with prayers said and tears shed. Now, though, he was seeing an entirely different way of remembering those who had passed on. Instead of crying, mourning and being fearful of death, he was able to see people accept death as part of the cycle of life. Although families are sad to have lost cherished members of the clan, they gather to rejoice with memories of the good times.
As he learns about new traditions and celebrates different holidays, my son is acquiring a new understanding of other cultures. He is still pondering how some people seem to willingly and almost happily embrace death as a natural part of life, instead of being afraid of it. By living in a new country, he is learning to question his old beliefs and attitudes.
Send comments to k.hamilton@todayszaman.com

SOURCE: TODAY’S ZAMAN

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