Thursday, October 28, 2010
Truly an Irish Holiday, the celebration of Halloween started in Ireland around 100AD by the Celts. The Celts called their pagan festival “Samhain”, an old Irish word meaning the ‘end of summer’ because the celebration marked the first day of winter and the end of the harvest season. The Celts believed that on the eve of Samhain, the dead spirits would revisit the mortal world. Folklorists have chronicled how at Halloween hobgoblins, evil spirits and fairies were busy abducting individuals to fairy land!
Of course the Americanized version is somewhat different, it is easy to see the direct link to past traditions. Here are just some of the ancient traditions of Halloween in Ireland.
Most people associate the pumpkin with the Jack O Lantern, but did you know that the Jack O Lantern originated as a turnip? Old Irish tradition was to hang the Jack O Lantern as part of the festival lights to ward off evil spirits.
Trick or Treating
This old Irish Halloween custom originated centuries ago when the poor would go to the rich and ask for food or money to use for their celebration of Halloween. Children were disguised with masks and costumes to embody the evil spirits.
Samhain was a fire festival and Halloween celebrations in Ireland usually involved lighting a bonfire. The Celts lit huge bonfires on the hills so the spirits could find their way. It is also said that the fires would ward away evil spirits. An old Irish tale suggests that if you drop a strand of your hair into the flames and dream of your future mate, your dream would come true! Bonfires continue to be a huge part of Halloween festivities in Ireland and are lit throughout the country.
Mysterious fortunetelling rites were popular during the Halloween celebrations. Many customs to foretell ones future were practiced. One popular tradition is the Barnbrack, a fruit bread with various items baked inside. The items varied from region to region, with each of the items signifying different things. Some of the items baked inside would be: a pea, a ring, a thimble and a bean. If your piece contained: the pea, you would be wealthy; the bean, you would be poor; a thimble, you would not marry; and if you found the ring, you would be wed within the year. At Halloween, in Ireland, the shelves of local supermarkets are packed with every kind of Barnbrack.
Experience this time old tradition in Ireland, where there is no better place to be at Halloween. Start planning your Ireland Vacation with Celtic Tours Vacation Builder!