HALLOWEEN IS COMING!: ORIGINS AND TRADITIONS
Did you know that the origin of this tradition arose in Ireland? The celebration of Halloween began in Ireland in the year 100
A.D. At that time Halloween was a pagan Celts celebrated the festival with the name “Samhain”, a Gaelic word meaning “the end of the harvest.”
Halloween is derived from All Hallow’s eve, which in old English means eve of all saints. Traditionally, the festival was the time when the ancient pagan Celts sacrificed animals to store supplies and livestock to be ready for the winter.
The Celts believed that on the night of Halloween the spirits of the dead returned to visit the mortal world. And for this reason, to scare them off, they wore costumes and scary masks. They also lit bonfires to scare away any ghosts or evil spirits. Today Halloween is celebrated with much more of a sense of humour. This is an opportunity to party, dress up and have fun. In Ireland most people dress up in scary costumes, children go from house to house asking for sweets, bars are filled with spooky decorations and lighted pumpkins placed in almost every house.
What is “trick or treating”?
It’s called “Trick-or-treating” to the custom of children in Halloween dress up and go from house to house asking for candy. When they open the door they ask “trick or treat?” The word “trick” refers to making a prank if the homeowner doesn’t give them a treat (candy). The children then make a small performance like singing a song or tell a story to earn their treats.
What are the “jack-o’-lanterns”?
A jack-o’-lantern is a carved pumpkin on hand in the form of an evil face, typical of Halloween. Arise eighteenth century when an Irish blacksmith named Jack colluded with the devil, when he was denied entrance to heaven. He was condemned to wander the earth forever. For here was wandering when he asked the devil for a little light. The devil gave him an ember of coal placed inside a turnip. The tradition of “Lanterns” says that Jack is a wandering blacksmith, a damned soul, frightened the people of Ireland and these, to keep him away, they laid turnips with candles in their windows sills. When the Irish immigrated into America they found that turnips were not plentiful but there were pumpkins.
“Colcannon” for dinner: Boiled potato, cabbage and raw onions are provided as the traditional Irish Halloween dinner. For the smaller children, coins are cleaned and placed inside of a potato, which are wrapped in baking paper and handle. When the children find it takes it’s a big surprise.
The cake “Barnbrack”: The traditional Halloween cake. It is fruit bread which each family member receives its portion when the eerie look because it can hide a piece of rag, a coin or a ring. If the cloth is obtained, the financial future of the “graceful” certainly becomes doubtful. If you get the currency it predicts a prosperous year, while if what you get is the rings is a sure sign of impending romance or marry you in less than a year.
The sheet “Ivy”: Every member of the family places a perfect ivy leaf into a cup of water and then leaves it to stand overnight. If in the morning, the sheet remains perfect and has not developed any sharp points, then the person who placed the leaf in the cup can be sure that they will have the next of full 12 months health until the following Halloween.
Snap Apple: After the visits to the neighbours, the kids start Halloween games and the most popular of these is Snap Apple. An apple is hung from a string and children are blindfolded try to bite it. The first child to get a good bite gets the prize. The same game is also done putting apples in a bowl of water and trying to get the apple.
HALLOWEEN IN ARAN ISLANDS
Inis Mór is the largest of the three Aran Islands of the west coast of Ireland. Residents still speak Irish among them and maintain a lifestyle quite different from the rest of the country. In fact, Halloween is celebrated in a totally different way on. The night of 31 October the inhabitants of Inis Mor dress carefully and they try to keep the mystery by not speaking any word the whole day. The challenge is to ensure that no one will recognize you on an island where everyone knows everyone. The hands are hidden with gloves, men dress as women and women like men. That night everyone goes to the local bars where the eerie silence continues. Nobody talks to the waiter. Orders are written on pieces of paper and those who regularly drink Guinness ask to other drink to confuse observers. They avoid lifting their masks exposing their faces and you drink with a straw – even beer! At midnight everyone gathers in the great hall of the island for a dance and finally the silence is broken when prizes for the best costumes are given.
HALLOWEEN IN DUBLIN
At this festival the city becomes crazy and there are celebrate numerous events. Dublin is transformed from a dark city, but it is full of colour with the Samhain Halloween Parade. This parade is in the city centre. It begins on Parnell Square and proceeds with Caribbean rhythms and carnival spirit. Dancers, dragons, ghosts, samba dancers, or anyone who wants to join the party can dance by the Georgian streets of Dublin. At night, the many pubs in the city made animated theme parties where you won’t miss the typical drink of these dates, the Lambswoos, made of baked apples with milk or beer.
The Halloween spirit permeates down to the last corner of the city highlighting, a part of the parade, the Terror Film Festival, the Bram Stoker Festival, fireworks, reading horror stories… In addition, many local companies organize terrifying tours and excursions around the city and surrounding area, including visits to churches, castles, mansions, prisons and creepiest cemeteries.
You can find more information about events in Dublin here: www.visitdublin.com
Halloween is a good excuse to visit Dublin and improve your English here, more if you haven’t been in Ireland yet. You still have time! At Travelling Languages we have a perfect travel program for the occasion. Have a look at Special Halloween programme. Or if you prefer just stay in Dublin, check our offers! Decide your program, book your flight and choose your costume! We will be waiting for you, just don’t don’t be scared by our costumes! 😉