Halloween Zombie Piparkakut
What does one make when it’s Halloween? Zombie piparkakut (Finnish gingerbread cookies) of course! Halloween, after Christmas, is my second favourite holiday, so it only seemed natural that I would one day combine the two. Piparkakut are usually reserved for the Christmas season in Finland and in our home, but I just couldn’t resist making a batch of this delicious spicy dough to make some zombie cookies for Halloween.
Although Halloween is not a traditional holiday that’s celebrated in Australia, or Finland for that matter, we have been trick or treating since the age we were deemed old and sensible enough to walk the neighbourhood streets on our own. My dad spent a portion of this childhood growing up in Canada, and so he passed the tradition down to us. And after our very first trick or treating adventure we were hooked. He also introduced us to the world of Archie comics. Also hooked, but that’s another story. But the point is, even though Halloween was not really celebrated by anyone we knew, it is something that took hold over the years where we grew up, and became, in the end, a tradition in our neighbourhood that was more smiled upon than frowned upon by the time we had grown out of it.
The very first time we went trick of treating we were met with very mixed reactions. Some people were very curious about what we were doing, others oohed and aahed over our costumes, some had no idea what Halloween was and thought we were bloody strange, while others seemed quite excited about the idea and ran indoors to see what they could rustle up for three children who probably looked like they were homeless. But, after a few years, it took on momentum. More kids joined in and people around the neighbourhood started to expect us on Halloween and were prepared with bowls of candy and other treats. One incident my sister and I will never forget is the time we were given a sad looking bruised banana from a little old lady who believed candy would rot our teeth and refused to hand it out. She was right, of course, but it didn’t stop us from wanting candy and then some.
Our last trick or treating adventure culminated in a Halloween party. We invited all the kids in the area and had ourselves a grand time. I’d like to think that the children who live in our old stomping ground carry on the tradition we started so long ago. I’m sure they must, as the world is changing and people adopt traditions from here and there and everywhere.I know there are many who scoff at the idea of celebrating Halloween in Australia. Not me! I love the idea of adopting different traditions, whatever they are, and celebrating them in the name of celebration. I really don’t see anything wrong with it. Yes, I understand that it is, like most things these days, a largely commercial enterprise, but it doesn’t have to be. Make it your own kind of celebration. For us it means making a batch of cookies to enjoy with a warming mug of coffee and carving up a pumpkin or two. Sometimes we have a bonfire and toast marshmallows and try to scare each other with ghost stories. And we always a bowl of candy ready incase any children happen to come by.
I love Halloween simply because it’s a time of celebration and superstition. Because it connects me with a very old tradition that blurs the lines of what we can know and see with that which we cannot. I like the idea of celebrating the end of the summer harvest, as was traditionally done on Halloween. I like Halloween for many reasons, but most of all, I like it because it’s fun! For me, any excuse to celebrate life, bake, play and make mischief with the ones you love will do.
So, if you want to do something on Halloween that doesn’t involve you turning into a witch, bake these cookies. This way, if you are not particularly a fan of the holiday, you can eat the evidence, and it will be like it never happened.
Love and light!