The candy apples and masquerade balls that most of us associate with mention of Halloween only observe one aspect of the holiday. Halloween’s origins are ancient, sharing ties with both the Celtic festival of Samhain and All Saints Day, respectively observed on October 31st and November 1st. The Festival of the Dead is also celebrated during this time of the year, when the barrier between the physical and ethereal worlds is believed to be thinnest, permitting passage of spirits between the two.
An annual solemnity common to multiple cultures, this death custom invites celebrants to remember and honor deceased members of their families and communities. In Salem, Massachusetts, the Festival of the Dead is being observed with a series of events organized by Salem Witch Christian Day and taking place throughout late October. Two of these, known as the The Dumb Supper and The Mourning Tea hold particular fascination for me as a food writer.