Halloween: An original Irish celebration


Halloween is the annual favorite celebration of the smallest ones, but also for the grown-ups, who enjoy jokes, scares and a little bit of sugar.

There are only a few weeks left until Halloween arrives, one of the most expected celebrations of the year for children and adults, in which costumes and candies attract all the attention in the streets around the world.

But… Did you know that on the “emerald island” we not only have St. Patrick, but that the Halloween holiday also has Irish origin? In this article we talk about one of our funniest and most international traditions.

Ireland, country of origin of the Halloween celebration

In ancient times known as All Hallows’ Eve, the Halloween celebration has its origin in a pagan Celtic celebration called Samhain, around 100 AD. During the first days of November, the Celtics celebrated the end of the harvest season, as a transitional date between one year and the next, which reflected the decline of the summer season with the arrival of the Celtic New Year. It was a celebration related to the spirits, in which rites were made with bonfires, terror masks and disguises of fear to scare them away, in addition to accumulating food to survive the winter, known as the “dark season”.

After the conversion to Christianity, the date of the celebration of this particular “night of the dead” was changed to the night of October 31 to November 1, All Saints Day, and became known as All Hallows’ Eve, that means Vigil of All Saints, to later be called Halloween, as it is now known.

Halloween traditions

The first thing to keep in mind is that, if we spend Halloween in Ireland, we will have to get used to seeing costumes and terrifying characters everywhere. But, in addition to that, which is something we practically all know, there are other typical traditions.

One of them is the Trick-Or-Treat, the question that all children ask when a neighbour opens the door. If the homeowner chooses trick, the children will do a joke to the house. On the other hand, if chooses treat, the children should be offered some sweets and after they make a small performance (sing a song, tell a short story…) as a way to say thanks.

Also, during Halloween there are the iconic carved pumpkins, better known as Jack-O-Lantern. These are empty pumpkins, trimmed with terrifying faces and a candle placed inside.

Fairies (Pooka), witches (Banshee), elves and ghosts are also part of this Irish tradition. So, watch out for them, because although they are magical they can all be dangerous!

Bonfires are also typical, a tradition that serves to scare away evil spirits and bad luck until the next year.

In addition to candies and sweets in general, the most typical sweet of this celebration is the Barnbrack, a cake made with raisins that has a ring and a coin hidden inside. Tradition states that whoever finds the ring will marry soon and, whoever finds the coin will have a good economic future. For dinner that night, when families return to their homes, it is typical to serve Colcannon, a delicious recipe made with mashed potatoes with cabbage, onion, cream and butter. This can be served with prizes or coins inside, so that children can find and keep them.

And finally, the funniest game: Snap Apple. After visiting homes throughout the neighborhood, families gather to play this particular game, that consists of hanging some apples with a rope that children should try to bite with their eyes covered. The first child who takes a good bite to the apple wins.

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