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All Hallows’ Eve aloha style on Maui

This time of year is my personal favorite. The days are shorter and the nights are cooler. Halloween is fast approaching and it kicks off the holiday season with a theme old and young have come to adore.

Halloween, in its beginning, was once the ancient Celtic festival of Samhain. October 31st was chosen as the day that marked the end of summer, the time of the harvest, and preparation for the dark, cold winter ahead.

This time of year was often associated with death, as it marks the end of the growing season. The Celts believed that on this special night, the boundary between the living world and world of the dead was blurred. Similarly in Mexico, Dia de los Muertos or the Day of the Dead is also celebrated this same week on November 2nd. For them, death is viewed as the beginning of the cycle of life, and a time to honor the dead.

I decided to find out just what this time of year means to local Hawaiians, before the Mainland’s influence of mainstream costumes and a night of revelry. Hawaiians also have their own unique way to commemorate this season. They call it Makahiki, which is the ancient Hawaiian New Year festival. This festival begins when the Pleiades constellation is first observed rising above the horizon at sunset.

Makahiki continues for four months. It is a time for giving ritualized thanks to Lono, the god of fertility and rain. It was customary at this time for a temporary halt to activities of war and farming. Once the tributes to Lono were collected, communities gathered to celebrate with feasts and games.

October on Maui may still feel hot like summer and it’s been one for the record books this year, but harvest and Halloween are here! If you want to really see and feel this season of change and harvest, head Upcountry and visit some of Maui’s local farms. There are maple trees turning red, and plum trees beginning to shed their leaves. Most visitors to Maui don’t know that Upcountry Maui experiences the picturesque fall we recognize from the Mainland or Europe. Sometimes you feel like you are in Vermont or Ireland in the middle of the Pacific.

Today I visited Kula Country Farms, located at 6240 Kula Highway. The farm was buzzing with bees and children alike. Kula Country Farm was busy hosting a school of young, wide-eyed pumpkin lovers who were all smiles from their adventure in the pumpkin patch.

This 4th-generation, 100-acre family farm has been one of Kula’s main Halloween attractions for many years. Summertime strawberries and onions make room for pumpkins.

This is a kid-friendly farm on the slopes of Haleakala that is a great place to pick your own and walk in the fresh Kula air. It has a bicoastal view that can’t be beat: from the shores of Kahului to the waves of Wailea, West Maui and Lanai.

So head up to Kula Country Farms and take great Halloween photos of your kids on Maui! Take home some pumpkins, carve them out and put that candle inside! It’s magic! Roast those yummy pumpkin seeds and enjoy Halloween!

Now what do you do with your pumpkin when it starts to look like a horror show prop melting away in the Maui sun and heat? To the rescue, in Lahaina, a zero-waste vegetarian restaurant, Moku Roots is providing a solution for Maui’s sunburnt pumpkins. The Lahaina Gateway eatery will be accepting pumpkins for composting throughout the season — just bring them into Moku Roots. Let your old pumpkin nurture the earth and get 10 percent off your meal! Moku Roots has specials everyday and I’m certainly looking forward to their Halloween menu. For more information, visit www.mokuroots.com or at their location: 335 Keawe Street, No. 211.

Another great find, for pumpkin spiced fun? You won’t catch me at a Starbucks . . . no really — you won’t. I don’t eat chain food. So you can count on me for finding more original eateries. I happened to be really hungry yesterday in Haiku, and happened upon what is now my new favorite burger on island: Toohey’s Bistro and Butchery in Haiku! It is situated across from the Haiku cannery on Kokomo Road, in an old plantation style house. This adorable new spot is a butchery and bistro with live music. It is the perfect addition to the quaint Haiku restaurant scene. Toohey’s is adding pumpkin to their delicious menu in honor of Halloween. I can’t wait to see what he does! More on Thooheys in an upcoming column.

A little bit about myself. My name is Aya Ganz. I was born on the island of Manhattan. Maui is my second island home. My love of food has taken me on many adventures. I’ve traveled the world in search of food. The joy of food and community is very important to me. Maui, with its unique mix of cultural influences, excites me. I intend to explore the culinary scene here, from pop-ups to fine dining to our wonderful farmers markets. Here’s to a delicious relationship. Yours truly, Aya.