Halloween, a time honored tradition in many places around the world, may have its origins in Ireland. In fact, one of the reasons why the celebration in the United States and Ireland is so similar is the simple fact that Irish immigrants brought this holiday with them during their exodus from Ireland’s potato famine.
From smoky bonfires to childish pranks, Halloween is one of the highlights of October. Halloween has a decidedly superstitious twist and a frightening array of costumes at times.
Originally, in Celtic times, the Celts celebrated “All Hallowtide” or the feast of the dead. This is the night when the dead return to the world of mortals and are at their closest connection. Later, the Catholic Church designated November first as “All Hallows” or “All Saints Day.” This day was set aside to celebrate all of the saints who did not have their own special day of remembrance.
Halloween is celebrated much the same way as in olden days. Bonfires are still lit, but mainly in rural or open areas. Children still dress up in costumes and go trick-or-treating at neighbors and friends. Afterwards, parties are still a big highlight of the night with fun and laughter for everyone.
The Irish Halloween bonfire is a tradition for the lovelorn. Placing a lock of your hair into the glowing embers is supposed to encourage a revelation of your future husband or wife. Simply toss the cutting of hair into the fire and dream away as your loved one materials in your dreams.
Halloween costumes date back to Celtic times. On the night when the living and the dead were supposedly at their closest encounter, the Celtic Druids would dress up in elaborate costumes. The costumes were always of evil spirits and devils. It was thought that the Celtic Druids would be mistaken as true devils and spirits and so, they would escape being carried off by the real devils and evil spirits. This led to the popularity of evil spirits for Halloween costumes including witches, devils, ghosts, goblins, and ghouls.
Bobbing for apples: Apples are placed in a metal tub of water. Players attempt to bite and capture an apple without using their hands. Typically, the players are blindfolded for extra fun.
Snap apple: An apple is tied to a string that is hung from a tree or doorframe. Blindfolded players attempt to bite the apple without using their hands. The player who gets a sizable bite of the apple wins a prize.
Card Game: Coins or small pieces of candy are hidden beneath cards that are placed face down on the table. Players select a card to flip over and receive the prize hidden beneath it.
An Irish Halloween Treat
The Irish have a traditional food known as barnbrack. It is a type of fruitcake that is often baked at home, but may be purchased in the store. Inside the cake is a muslin wrapped item. The individual who eats the cake and discovers a treat will then know his or her future according to what is found. For example, a ring foretells an imminent marriage or romance, a piece of straw or a coin foretells a year of prosperity, and so on.
An Irish Halloween Dinner
Typically, the Irish enjoyed a fine meal of Colcannon. Colcannon consists of boiled potato, curly kale, and raw onions. Quite often, parents would place wrapped coins in the potato for the small children.
One of the forerunners of the American trick-or-treat customs may very well be knock a dolly. This prank involved knocking upon someone’s door and then running away quickly before he or she had a chance to open the door.
The Ivy Leaf
A perfect ivy leaf is placed overnight in a cup of water. If the leaf is still perfect in the morning, then the owner of the ivy leaf is guaranteed an entire year of good health.