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An Irish Hallowe'en - Part 2
by Bridget Haggerty

As in many other parts of the world, commercialism has crept into an Irish Hallowe’en, so that nowadays, you’re just as likely to hear kids yelling “Trick or Treat” as you will “Help The Hallowe’en Party”, and most of them now receive candy instead of the traditional apples and nuts. It’s also fairly certain that many of them will be disguised as their favorite TV or video heroes and heroines and that they’ll pester their moms and dads to outdo the neighbors when it comes to decorations. Still, many of the old customs are still observed, especially in the more rural areas.

While Pokemon and other contemporary characters may be the latest fad in costumes, the old-fashioned ones like witches, ghosts and goblins are still the most popular. Wearing costumes dates back to the time of the Druids who believed that the living and the dead were at their closest on the night before Samhain and that evil spirits would attempt to collect as many souls as they could. By disguising themselves as members of the spirit world, the people of ancient Ireland hoped to confuse any devils that might be abroad and thus, avoid being carried off. Another way to make an evil spirit release any souls held captive was to throw the dust from under your feet at it! And if you’ve ever wondered where we get the tradition of carving pumpkins, it dates back to 18th-century Ireland, when a mean and nasty blacksmith named Jack was denied entry into heaven.

He was so rotten that the devil didn’t want Jack in hell either —  too much competition for him! So Jack’s spirit was condemned to wander the earth for eternity. But one request the devil did grant Jack was to give him something to light his way. What he got was a burning coal ember which Jack placed inside a carved out turnip. Thus, the tradition of the Jack O’ Lantern was born. To this day, people in Ireland still carve out turnips and illuminate them with stumps of candle. They’re then placed in a window or put on a gate post outside the house. Here in the United States, the custom was continued by millions of Irish emigrants who carved out pumpkins because they were a lot more plentiful than turnips.

Want to find out if you and your family will be in good health until next Hallowe’en? Each person takes a perfect ivy leaf and places it in a cup of water where it is left undisturbed until the next morning. If a family member’s leaf is still perfect and doesn’t have any spots on it, he or she should be in fine shape for the next 12 months.

Or perhaps you’re single and in search of a spouse? In the old days, if a man or woman dropped a tress of hair into the Hallow e’en bonfire, he or she would dream of their future love that night. It was also customary for country girls to be blindfolded and then led into a field where they were supposed to pull the first cabbage they could find. If the cabbage head had a lot of dirt attached to the roots, their future loved one would be wealthy. And eating the cabbage would reveal his nature - bitter or sweet!

There is one last Hallowe’en custom or 'custom to be' perhaps. In Halloween Part One, it was mentioned that Colcannon was the traditional dish served on this night. It still is - but with a relatively modern twist. Nowadays, in many parts of Ireland, clean coins are wrapped in waxed paper and dropped into the potato mixture for children to find and keep. Sounds like a very clever idea on the part of Irish mothers to get the kids to eat more of their vegetables!

Photo credit for turnip
Carved Hallowe'en turnip: National Museum of Ireland

See our other articles on Samhain and Halloween, click below:

An Irish Hallowe'en - Part 1
An Irish Hallowe'en - Part 2
How the Irish Invented Halloween
A Triple Treat For Hallowe'en
The Churchyard Bride
Creepy Irish Castles and Houses
Creepy Irish Creatures
Irish Ghosts
Something Wicked this way comes - Irish Ghosts by Region
Protect your property and yourself - Make a Parshell Cross for Hallowe'en
The Dullahan
Samhain - The Irish New Year
The Day after Samhain - All Souls Day


Fri, Feb 2, 2018

Irish God and Goddess of love

Oengus is the Irish God of love, beauty and youth. According to the old folklore, his kisses became birds. It is also said that he dreamed of a beautiful maiden, named Caer, for whom he searched all over Ireland. Eventually, he found her chained to 150 other maidens, destined to become swans at the time of Samhain. Legend has it that Oengus transformed himself into a swan and was united with his love.
Aine of Knockaine is the Irish Goddess of love. She is also known as the Fairy Queen of Munster and as a goddess of fertility beause she has control and command over crops and animals, especially cattle. Another name by which she is known is Aillen. To learn more about Irish mythology, please click Irish Myths & Legends.
Photo Credit: Wikipedia

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