(Family Features) - Hey, hey, what are you doing for Halloween? Are your children anticipating their annual rendezvous with jack-o'-lanterns, costumes and candy? Or are your friends looking forward to an October 31 celebration with elaborate disguises, ghoulish laughter and eerie music?
Whichever way you choose to celebrate, Hormel Foods has created spooktacular snacks for your party - a witch's cauldron of good 'n gooey dip, a hooty owl-shaped pizza and a help-yourself meat and cheese tray.
Fortunately for party planners, Halloween's history is rich with these images, dating back centuries to ancient peoples struggling to understand fall's change from light, warmth and life to darkness, cold and death.
Black cats, evil spirits, magic and Halloween's emphasis on death came from Samhain (pronounced sow-en), the Celts' god of the dead. On Oct. 31, Samhain decided which spirits danced and which rested.
Skulls, skeletons and ghosts can be traced to November 1, All Saints' Day (established in 835 A.D.), also called Hallowmas. The preceding day was All Hallows' Eve, the source of Halloween rituals. Bonfires - to scare off evil spirits - and parades marked the day. Night-flying creatures like bats, owls and witches on broomsticks became part of this festival of darkness, as did haunted houses.
Halloween came to the U.S. with British settlers. Here, the pumpkin replaced the turnip carried by Ireland's legendary Jack o' the lantern. Poor Jack, having lost his soul to the devil, carried a light in a hollowed-out turnip as he walked through eternity.
Thus, black dominates our Halloween table, though there's a colorful owl (made of pizza crust). His wings are feathered with pepperoni; his eyes are pineapple rings. And there's a witch's cauldron of zippy chili-cheese dip (recipe follows).
The Hormel Meat and Cheese Party Tray completes the selection (featuring salami, pepperoni, cheddar and Colby-jack cheese and crackers). Just unwrap and serve. Or try these combos: Meat Only (salami and pepperoni with crackers) and a Meat and Cheese Tray with ham and turkey.
Serve with a salad, cider and "black" (chocolate) cake.
This dip's so delicious, it will vanish like a ghost!