Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Feasts and Festivals: All Saints' Day and All Souls' Day

It's quite the week for Feasts and Festivals--Halloween yesterday, All Saints' Day today, All Souls' Day tomorrow and Guy Fawkes Day on Saturday. I'm all for extending the holiday spirit (except the Christmas season has been expanded too much already--I've already heard carols; it's ridiculous!). Who doesn't love festive celebration? To get you in the All Saints/All Souls spirit (what a triple entendre!), how about some Spiced Ale?

Spiced Ale

2 teaspoons brown sugar
2 jiggers brandy
1 pint brown ale
pinch of mixed spice
1 cinnamon stick
2 cinnamon sticks (optional, for decoration)

Place a teaspoon of brown sugar in the bottom of two (12-ounce) mugs. Pour a jigger of brandy into each mug and stir to combine.

Meanwhile, heat the ale, mixed spice and cinnamon stick in a saucepan over high heat. When the ale starts to bubble and almost come to a boil, strain the ale and divide between the two mugs. Stir and garnish with cinnamon sticks. Enjoy!

Serves 2

Adapted from "Spiced Ale" in Julia Jones and Barbara Deer, Cattern Cakes and Lace: A Calendar of Feasts (London: Dorling Kindersley, 1987), 116.

Print at food.com

Although it can't be proved, it is widely thought that the Celts believed Samhain (which lasted at least through November 1st) was a time when the gates were opened between this world and the next,* let's keep up with the supernatural fun by watching I Married a Witch, starring Fredric March (love him!) and Veronica Lake. Wallace Wooley (March) is a New England politician, from an old family--a family that happens to have been cursed by a witch one of them condemned in the seventeenth century. That witch, Jennifer (Veronica Lake), made sure all of the men in the family were unhappily married! Unfortunately, Jennifer creates complications for herself (and everyone else!) when she arrives in 1940s New England and falls in love with Wallace.

If you don't mind a few commercial breaks, you can watch I Married a Witch on hulu. If you'd prefer to watch it on TCM, it airs November 14th at 3:30 p.m. CST.

*November 1st marked the Celts' new year, when they acknowledged beginnings and endings and the cycles of life and death. The weakest animals in the herds were slaughtered at this time as well, to free up resources and to provide meat (Ronald Hutton, The Stations of the Sun: A History of the Ritual Year in Britain, 360-362).

I Married a Witch photographs from Doctor Macro.


  1. I love the spiced ale recipe! I married a Witch looks like a hoot. Veronica Lake...so beautiful...

  2. We need this spiced ale, and we need it tonight. I read in VL's autobiography about all the mean tricks she would pull in she and Frederic March's close ups because they were mortal enemies on that set... and yet, how cute and sweet their chemistry comes across on screen! That little minx. One of my favorite favorites. Thanks for the Samhain facts and the recipe, love it.

  3. I love Veronica Lake . . . and I can't remember seeing this movie!

  4. This Spiced Ale recipe seems so good! I want to try it!

  5. This looks so yummy! I going to try and make this :)

  6. Gorgeous! Though the one I get most excited about is Guy Fawkes (and not just because it's my birthday). Now that we're in London and there are fireworks, I get to pretend there are fireworks just for me!

  7. I would very happily help myself to a glass of ale - it looks delicious.

  8. The Cats and the BerriesNovember 2, 2011 at 8:14 AM

    Ah, some spiced ale sounds lovely! And now I really want to watch I Married a Witch, I never knew what it was about before, I'd only seen the pictures of Veronica in her witchy costume! Sounds like a fun movie.. alas, Hulu isn't available over the pond! And I thought England was supposed to be a first-world country.. :P
    - Emily

  9. No hulu?! No wonder we declared our independence! ;-)

  10. Evidently she was really horrible to Fredric March (at least from what I've read on IMDB). Her co-star was supposed to be Joel McCrea, but he refused to work with her again!

  11. Perfect weather out now for Spiced Ale! Quite a festive week!


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