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"The New York Halloween Meetup Group" Message Board › HALLOWEEN IRISH LORE/TRADITION


lady m.
Staatsburg, NY
Post #: 1,111
Irish Halloween Traditions

An article provided by The Information about Ireland Site.

The Celts celebrated Halloween as Samhain, 'All Hallowtide' -
the 'Feast of
the Dead', when the dead revisited the mortal world. The celebration
end of Summer and the start of the Winter months.

During the eighth century the Catholic Church designated the first
day of
November as 'All Saints Day ('All Hallows') - a day of commemoration
Saints that did not have a specific day of remembrance. The night
before was
known as 'All Hallows Eve' which, over time, became known as

Here are the most notable Irish Halloween Traditions:

Colcannon for Dinner: Boiled Potato, Curly Kale (a cabbage) and raw
are provided as the traditional Irish Halloween dinner. Clean coins
wrapped in baking paper and placed in the potato for children to find

The Barnbrack Cake: The traditional Halloween cake in Ireland is the
barnbrack which is a fruit bread. Each member of the family gets a
Great interest is
taken in the outcome as there is a piece of rag, a coin and a ring in
cake. If you get the rag then your financial future is doubtful. If
you get
the coin then you can look forward to a prosperous year. Getting the
ring is
a sure sign of impending
romance or continued happiness.

The Ivy Leaf: Each member of the family places a perfect ivy leaf
into a cup
of water and it is then left undisturbed overnight. If, in the
morning, a
leaf is still perfect and has not developed any spots then the person
placed the leaf in the cup can be sure of 12 months health until the
following Halloween. If not.....

The Pumpkin: Carving Pumpkins dates back to the eighteenth century
and to an
Irish blacksmith named Jack who colluded with the Devil and was
denied entry
to Heaven. He was condemned to wander the earth but asked the Devil
for some
light. He was given a b! urning c oal ember which he placed inside a
that he had gouged out.

The tradition of Jack O'Lanterns was born - the bearer being the
blacksmith - a damned soul. Villagers in Ireland hoped that the
lantern in
window would keep the wanderer away. When the Irish emigrated in
millions to
America there was not a great supply of turnips so pumpkins were used

Halloween Costumes: On Halloween night children would dress up in
costumes and go house to house. 'Help the Halloween Party' and 'Trick
Treat' were the cries to be heard at each door. This tradition of
costumes also dates back to Celtic times. On the special night when
living and the dead were at their closest the Celtic Druids would
dress up
in elaborate costumes to disguise themselves as spirits and devils in
they encountered other devils and spirits during the night. By
they hoped that they would be able to avoid being carried away at the
end of
the night. This explains why witches, goblins and ghosts remain the
popular choices for the costumes.

Snap Apple: After the visits to the neighbours the Halloween games
the most popular of which is Snap Apple. An apple is suspended from a
children are blindfolded. The first child to get a decent bite of the
gets to keep their prize. The same game can be played by placing
apples in a
basin of water and trying to get a grip on the apple without too much

The Bonfire: The Halloween bonfire is a tradition to encourage dreams
of who
your future husband or wife is going to be. The idea was to drop a
of your
hair into the burning embers and then dream of you future loved one.
Halloween was one of the Celt 'fire' celebrations.

Blind Date: Blindfolded local girls would go out into the fields and
pull up
the first cabbage they could find. If their cabbage had a substantial
of earth attached to the roots then there future loved one would have
Eating the cabbage woul! d reveal the nature of their future husband -
bitter or sweet!

Another way of finding your future spouse is to peel an apple in one
go. If
done successfully the single apple peel could be dropped on the floor
reveal the
initials of the future-intended.

Anti-Fairy Measures: Fairies and goblins try to collect as many souls
they can at Halloween but if they met a person who threw the dust
from under
their feet at the Fairy then they would be obliged to release any
souls that
they held captive.

Holy water was sometimes anointed on farm animals to keep them safe
the night. If the animals were showing signs of ill health on All
Eve then they would be spat on to try to ward off any evil spirits
A former member
Post #: 3
Thanks for posting this, I love that the first Jack O' Lanterns were actually turnips! I'd recommend The Pagan Book of Halloween by Gerina Dunwich for anyone who is interested in learning more about Halloween legends and traditionals.

Bronx, NY
Post #: 4
That is a really interesting article. I still hear of some catholic schools that won't allow their students to dress up because Halloween is a Pagan holiday.
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