Remembering ancestors through traditional foods

There are many traditions for Samhain such as ancestor alters, costumes, and especially food and drink. One way we remember our ancestors is through the making of our favorite foods for Samhain. The ingredients may have meaning, as well as the process used to combine and bake/cook these tasty treats. Here are a couple of recipes that could be incorporated into your own traditions.

Remembrance Cookies

These cookies can be made on Hallow’s Eve. They can be shaped like people and the herb rosemary is added to the dough as a symbol of remembrance. Some of the cookies are eaten while telling stories or attributes of special ancestors, reminding us that we still have access to their strengths–or perhaps a predisposition to their weaknesses. The rest of the cookies are left outside by a bonfire as an offering. This can be a solemn ritual, but it need not be.

Ingredients for the cookies:

1 1/2 c. powdered sugar 1 c. butter or margarine (softened) 1 egg 2 t. vanilla 1 t. almond extract 2 1/2 c. all purpose flour 1 t. baking soda 1 t. cream of tartar 1 1/2 T. chopped rosemary

Heat oven 375 degrees. In a large bowl beat sugar, butter, egg, vanilla, almond extract, and rosemary until creamy. In a separate bowl, sift flour, baking soda, and cream of tartar. Fold flour mixture into sugar mixture. Beat until dough forms and refrigerate for three hours. Divide dough into halves. Roll out one portion to 3/16 of an inch on a floured surface. Cut out with gingerbread women or men cutters and place on an ungreased cookie sheet. Repeat rolling and cutting with second portion. Bake for 5-7 minutes.




(Potatoes, harvested from August to October, were a part of the feast in Ireland where they were made into a Samhain dish known as colcannon. Colcannon is a mashed potato, cabbage, and onion dish still served in Ireland on All Saint’s Day. It was an old Irish tradition to hide in it a ring for a bride, a button for a bachelor, a thimble for a spinster, and a coin for wealth, or any other item which local custom decreed in keeping with idea of the New Year as a time for divination.)

4 cups mashed potatoes 2 1/2 cups cabbage, cooked and chopped fine 1/2 cup butter (avoid corn oil margarines as they will not add the needed body and flavor) 1/2 cup evaporated milk or cream 3/4 cup onion, chopped very fine and sautéed 1/4 teaspoon salt 1/8 teaspoon white pepper

Sauté onions (traditionalists sauté in lard or grease, but butter is acceptable.). Boil the potatoes and mash them (do not use artificial potato flakes). In a large pan place all of the ingredients except the cabbage and cook over low heat while blending them together. Turn the heat to medium and add the chopped cabbage. The mixture will take on a pale green cast. Keep stirring occasionally until the mixture is warm enough to eat. Lastly drop in a thimble, button, ring, and coin. Stir well and serve. (from Raven’s Pagan Nest).

Thanks to the God Discussion for sharing these and other fine recipes. If you have food or beverage you like to make for Samhain, we would love to hear from you. Please share your favorites.


Honoring our ancestors: the Wiccan Samhain–recipes, ritual and history. (2012 October 10). Retrieved from


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