Halloween beets

October 31st isn’t much of a holiday in France but it does seem to be growing in popularity. At the supermarket you might spot a few bags of miniature candy bars individually wrapped or as you can see in the accompanying photos, chocolate shops decorate their windows with sometimes creepy displays as did the tourism office (featured photo above). This year the city will be hosting scary stories this afternoon at the castle inside the walls and Chateau de Pennautier, just outside of town (photo and link below), got dressed up for the occasion too. This will be our sixth Halloween here and we’re expecting the usual number of trick-or-treaters that we see every year: between zero and one. For us it’s just an excuse to buy a bunch of Snickers. That aside, I wanted to see what, if any, history All Hallows Eve had in France and if they had anything similar over the years. Thanks to the website My Parisian Kitchen I found some answers.

Yves Thuriès chocolate spider

Credit is given to a large commercial firm for getting the ball rolling at the end of the 1990s. Telephone giant, France Telecom, rolled out an orange-colored cell phone that they dubbed “Olaween” that when said out loud resembles the word “Halloween” with an accent. At the same time they gave away 8000 pumpkins in Paris on a square in the shadow of the Eiffel Tower. Shortly thereafter Coke threw a Halloween party and it’s become a minor staple ever since with candy companies joining in.

While pumpkin carving isn’t very popular, beet carving is, at least in Brittany and in Lorraine. Apparently the tradition has long been for children to carve scary faces on large beet roots, illuminate them with candles, and lay them out to frighten passers-by. This is done just prior to a much more celebrated November 1st holiday, Toussaint, that we know as “All Saints’ Day.”

Tourisme Grand Carcassonne

This year, the French national railways, SNCF, have joined in the fun by listing “10 French cities that will make your blood run cold for Halloween”, all of which can be accessed by rail. They’ve even included the Museum of the Inquisition right here in Carcassonne. See our Topics & Tags tab above or click here to go to the original article. Happy Halloween!

Tourisme Grand Carcassonne

Château de Pennautier

4 thoughts on “Halloween beets

  1. Halloween has always felt a bit strange here for me as I’m one of those admittedly odd people who love the day, its supposed Irish origins, and the old-fashioned eeriness that a carved and lit Jack-o-lantern or the iconic silhouette of a flying witch can evoke. Every year I still display my carved and lit pumpkin outside – it’s only for me. This year, sadly, my tradition is at risk because I’ve been unable to find a Connecticut field pumpkin to buy. I’m just on my way out for one last look in one of the local supermarkets – wish me luck! And Happy Halloween. 😉

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    1. If you have an Aldi nearby they are advertising “Courge Halloween” from Spain in this week’s catalog. It’s a little closer than Connecticut 😁


      1. Thank you. Indeed, we do and they had some, but they aren’t carving pumpkins – hard as rocks! Sigh – the first year in my whole life I won’t have a Jack-o- lantern. You’d think I was 10 years old. 🥴

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  2. An English friend said they grew up with carved turnips instead of pumpkins, and those can look a lot like beets. I think the use of pumpkins is relatively recent and/or US-origin.
    In the US, the time changes only after the end of October because the candy lobby (big $$) didn’t want Hallowe’en to be dark too early. True story.

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