Our company, Wild N Happy, channels more Wild N Spooky vibes this time of year. Inspired by the dark history of Halloween that many do not know, we get in the spirit by surfacing some of these traditions. While all hallow’s eve is more of an excuse to hit the pubs now a days, we need to remember the true essence of halloween, one that dates back to our Celtic ancestors.
The Celts started the pagan festival called Samhain meaning “The Feast of the Dead,” representing a time when the dead came back to the mortal world. This also celebrated the year end kind of like how we celebrate New Year’s Eve now. Starting about 2,000 years ago, this represented the transition from summer to winter. Families honoured their ancestors by having a large, communal bonfire and making food to share amongst themselves and their deceased love ones.
But in order to make sure no evil spirits came about, Celtic Druids (religious leader of the Celts) would disguise themselves in costumes that would scare them off. This is actually why we dress in costumes to this day!
When the Catholic Church became prominent during the 8th century, the tradition was taken to the next level. November 1st became officially All Saints Day or all Hallows as some may know it, followed by November 2nd All Souls Day. Now, all Hallows eve or Hallowe’en was a big deal during those days (not that it isn’t now!) Alit with a roaring fire and a feast to match, these Halloween gatherings were large family reunions which wouldn’t be complete without some games and else all your family portraits would look like this:
Instead of this:
Henceforth, we have the origin of ding dong ditchin’. Tradition has it, you would throw a big ol’ cabbage at the neighbors door to give them a fright and RUN!
You may have heard of a Jack O’Lantern? Well that tradition actually started here in Ireland because of a blacksmith named Jack, who was doomed to walk the Earth for forever after he was denied from heaven. But in order to see on Earth, he asked the Devil for light. So in response, the Devil gave him a hallowed out turnip with a burning coal for light.
This tradition was changed a bit when Irish headed to America, for pumpkins were much more prevalent!
FuNKy IriSH TrADiTIonS!
Because of such a rich history surrounding Halloween, Ireland is now left with lots of traditions. And many of these traditions are games that would have been played during family reunions, which you will quickly notice have a similar theme running throughout them.
Anecdote time! I came into work the other day to my coworker gasping at the sight of me. She asks- did you get engaged? No! I wasn’t newly engaged, but I did find a golden ring. A halloween tradition here in Ireland.
There are a couple food traditions the Irish do, one being barmbrack; a fruit loaf that has a few prizes mixed into the batter. And depending on your fortune for the year, you could find:
Rag- a doubtful financial future
Coin- a prosperous year
Ring- romance or continuous happiness
Thimble- you’ll never marry
Colcannon is another traditional dish served on Halloween before heading out for the evening. It’s simple and contains, you guessed it, potatoes! Boiled potatoes, curly kale, and raw onions to be exact. If you are the lucky one, you may just find a ring hidden inside prophesying you will be married in the next year. Line up single ladies and get your scoop while it lasts!
And then there is snap apple; a unique game that entails hanging apples from the ceiling or bobbing for apples in a bucket of water. The goal is to get the first bit of an apple and whoever wins get a prize and it is said will be the first to marry.
Now if you haven’t noticed the overall theme yet, you will need to take notes from the girl pictured above who is determined to find her next husband.
And with that, to all a goodnight and a goodnight to all this Hallow’s eve!
P.S. watch out for Wild N Spooky’s main guy around Killarney this week. He is known to go all out for this occasion!