IRISH HALLOWEEN TRADITIONS
The Celts celebrated Halloween as Samhain, ‘All Hallowtide’ – the ‘Feast of the Dead’, when the dead revisited the mortal world. The celebration marked the 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 for those 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 Halloween.
Here are the most notable Irish Halloween Traditions:
Colcannon for Dinner: Boiled Potato, Curly Kale (a cabbage) and raw Onions are provided as the traditional Irish Halloween dinner. Clean coins are wrapped in baking paper and placed in the potato for children to find and keep.
The Barnbrack Cake: The traditional Halloween cake in Ireland is the barnbrack which is a fruit bread. Each member of the family gets a slice. Great interest is taken in the outcome as there is a piece of rag, a coin and a ring in each 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 who 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 burning coal ember which he placed inside a turnip that he had gouged out.
The tradition of Jack O’Lanterns was born – the bearer being the wandering blacksmith – a damned soul. Villagers in Ireland hoped that the lantern in their 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 instead.
Halloween Costumes: On Halloween night children would dress up in scary costumes and go house to house. ‘Help the Halloween Party’ and ‘Trick or Treat’ were the cries to be heard at each door. This tradition of wearing costumes also dates back to Celtic times. On the special night when the 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 case they encountered other devils and spirits during the night. By disguising 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 most popular choices for the costumes.
Snap Apple: After the visits to the neighbours the Halloween games begin, the most popular of which is Snap Apple. An apple is suspended from a string and children are blindfolded. The first child to get a decent bite of the apple 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 mess!
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 cutting 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 amount of earth attached to the roots then there future loved one would have money. Eating the cabbage would 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 to reveal the initials of the future-intended.
Anti-Fairy Measures: Fairies and goblins try to collect as many souls as 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 during the night. If the animals were showing signs of ill health on All Hallows Eve then they would be spat on to try to ward off any evil spirits.
Happy Halloween from Ireland!
Irish Halloween Traditions – An article provided by The Information about Ireland Site.
(C) Copyright http://www.ireland-information.com
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The gasoline blend is being fought by the AMA (American Motorcyclists Association) on the grounds that gasoline in the marketplace should not be potentially harmful to engines. The EPA has proposed marking the pumps for car models 2007 and newer to prevent consumers for mistaking the gasoline.
The EPA is doing additional tests to see if it is safe to add E15 to models from 2001 to 2006. The ruling to allow up to a 15% ethanol blend for gasoline is to work toward the congressional mandate to use more renewable energies.
It’s understandable to work toward renewable energy sources, but using something that harms consumer engines and causes more potential damage than the 10% blend just creates other environmental concerns, and growing corn isn’t exactly good for the environment unless done sustainably. Why can’t we use more windmills and solar technology? This seems to be a band-aid approach from politicians to meeting the congressional mandates to use more renewable energies. What do you think? Leave us your comment.
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Jack O Lantern Origin – Ofcoarse it’s Irish -
The term Jack of the Lantern first appeared in print in 1750 and referred to a night watchman or a man carrying a lantern. Previous to print, it was used to describe a strange light flickering over the marshes of Ireland. If approached, the light advanced and was always out of reach. The mysterious occurrence is also known as will o’ the wisp and ignis fatuus, Gaelic for foolish fire. However, its legendary status reaches far back into Irish folklore with a story of a stingy drunkard named Jack.Jack, an Irish blacksmith, had the misfortune of running into the Devil in a pub on Halloween. Jack had imbibed a bit too much that evening and was about to fall prey to the Devil, but the quick thinking trickster made a bargain with the Devil, nonetheless. In exchange for one last drink, Jack offered up his soul. The Devil changed his form into a sixpence in which to make payment to the bartender, but Jack pocketed the coin in a bag with a silver cross with the knowledge that the Devil couldn’t revert form. Once under Jack’s thumb, and in his purse, the Devil agreed not to come for Jack’s soul for another ten years.
Ten years later, the Devil came across Jack walking on a country road and explained to him that he was there to collect Jack’s soul. Not ready to go, Jack, pretending to comply, asked the Devil if he would climb an apple tree first and give him an apple. The Devil, thinking he had nothing to lose, climbed the tree, but as he was plucking the requested apple, Jack pulled out his knife and carved the sign of the cross in the tree’s trunk. The Devil was unable to come back down and Jack procured an agreement from him. The Devil would never take his soul.Years later, Jack finally died. He went to Heaven, but was dismissed from the gates due to his drinking, tricking, and miserly ways. He then went to Hell, but was denied entrance because the Devil remembered his promise. Jack asked, “But where am I to go?” And the Devil replied, “Back to where you came from”.The way back was dark and windy, so Jack pleaded with the Devil to at least grant him light in which to find his way. The Devil, in a magnanimous un-Devil like manner, tossed Jack an ember from the fires of Hell. Jack shielded the ember in a turnip he’d been eating and left Hell to wander back.Ever since, Jack has been doomed to wander in the darkness alone, and his name and lantern are synonymous with a damned soul.
The fear of souls like Jack’s venturing back to the warmth of their previous homes on Halloween spawned a custom that is carried on today. Originally, Irish villagers, concerned about the possibility of visits from past occupants, would dress in costume to frighten away ghosts. They also left food outside the door to appease the spirits and carved or painted faces on turnips, potatoes, rutabagas, or beets to place in windows or doors in order to chase away ghosts with the symbol of a damned soul.The Irish Potato Famine of the mid-1800′s prompted a massive immigration to the Americas. With the Irish, came their beliefs and traditions, including the use of a jack o’ lantern. The Irish discovered that turnips were not readily available in the Americas and substituted the vegetable with pumpkins instead.The jack o’ lantern is easily the most recognized and used symbol of Halloween in modern age. Not only is it used outside front doors in traditional form, but it’s become the veritable treat container for trick or treaters. While the face of the jack o’ lantern has changed over the years with the advent of pumpkin carving kits, it’s still an ongoing tradition.
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