Monday, October 20, 2014

Schowanacks-Owent


We called Halloween Schowanacks-Owent which translates to mischief/pranksters evening.

No matter how far away from mainstream society we lived or, as we called it, “the people of the world”, meaning non-Mennonites, we still knew about Halloween.  We hand carved a lot of pumpkins around this time of the year.  Most of us would have fields of them and we called them sot- kjarps, seed pumpkins.  We grew them only for the seeds and fed the rest to the pigs. 
 
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I came to Canada in July and, by the time October arrived, I had heard many people say that they love pumpkin pie or anything made from pumpkins to eat.  When I finally figured out that pumpkin was sot- kjarps, I thought, “Eeww, people in Canada make pie out of pig food!”

We did eat only one kind of kjarps and that was zucchini. Any other weird looking orange kjarps we did not eat.  I do not remember ever seeing squash or any other kind of kjarps in Mexico.

We had so many pumpkins that our mom didn’t mind if we made jack-o-lanterns out of them, as long as they were not scary looking.  We put candles in them at night and lit them up. I don’t know where we got those ideas but I imagine my grandparents brought ideas like these from Canada.

I remember hearing talks about Halloween being the devil’s night and we were not to participate in anything that had to do with that.  But that didn’t stop the youth from going out on Halloween night. In my colony, the youth boys would go out and light firecrackers on the streets of the colony on Halloween night. Some girls were allowed to go too, if they had brothers that would go out with them. We did not dress up in costumes since those were not allowed.

We would go door to door and say, “Do you have something for the Schowanacka (Pranksters)?” If they didn’t, they would get some kind of trick or prank later that night, in the form of some kind of damage to their property or opening the gates to let the cattle out.
Most people, even if they didn’t want to, would give something just to keep the peace.  

I remember getting a bottle of mezcal at one house and a block of Queso Mennonita Mennonite cheese at another.  Some people gave out cigarettes, bottles of coca cola, chocolate and candy. 

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