Halloween Traditions in Ireland

Halloween is said to have originated in Ireland, so with this spooky time approaching, we thought we would share a few of our favourite traditions and customs, some of which are still practised, before the celebrations on 31st October begin.

Celebrated by the Celts, Halloween was once a pagan festival known as “Samhain” meaning “end of summer”. This celebration or “Feast of the Dead”, would take place to mark the end of the summer and start of the winter at a time it was believed that the dead spirits revisited the mortal world.

How this evolved to be known Halloween, is historically blurred, but it is believed that when the Catholic Church recognised the 1st November as “All Saints Day” or “All Hallows”, the night before became known as “All Hallows Eve” which overtime become known as Halloween!

Over time some Halloween traditions have remained and below are just two of our favourites.

The Bramback: Be sure to enjoy a barmbrack if you are here on an Ireland Vacation over Halloween. Within the Bramback, you will find: a pea, a stick, a piece of cloth, a small coin and a ring. The Barmbrack would be sliced and distributed to family and friends on Halloween night and the game of who received what would unfold. Each item supposedly carries a meaning to the person who receives it; the pea – would mean that the person would not marry that year; the stick – would mean that the person would have an unhappy marriage of continually be in disputes; the cloth or rag – would mean that the person would have bad luck or be poor; the coin – would mean the person would enjoy good fortune or be rich; and the ring – would mean that the person would be married within the year!

Jack O’Lanterns: Pumpkin carving dates back to the eighteenth century when an Irish blacksmith named Jack was denied entry to heaven and condemned to wander the earth. He however asked the Devil for some light and was given a burning coal ember, which he placed inside a gouged out turnip! Thus the traditions of Jack O’Lanterns began, and as the bearer was a damn soul – the wandering blacksmiths, the villagers hoped that a lantern in their window would keep the wandered away. When many Irish immigrated to America, it was harder to find turnips and so pumpkins were used instead.

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