Halloween traditions for a cultural Halloween celebration

Halloween is a time for spooky outfits, and collecting goodies, but as we return to a more usual type of Halloween this year, it may be time to look back at the roots of it all.

The celebration, which is traditionally called Samhain, began as a festival to celebrate a successful harvest, and includes some frightening and magical traditions.

Since Ireland is the country where Samhain originated, why not return to the roots of it all with 7 of the best Halloween rituals for a classic celebration!

1. Jack-O-Lantern

The traditional Irish jack-o-lanterns were actually made out of turnips- which were carved into frightful faces to ward off evil spirits. It’s not as common to see now, as Irish immigrants adopted the much more easily carved pumpkin!

2. Bobbing For Apples or Snap Apple

When bobbing for apples, some apples are put in a basin filled with water and you must catch one in your mouth. It is said that if you place the apple under your pillow, you will dream of your future partner!

The aim of snap apple is to be the first person to get a bite of your apple, which is hanging on a string. The first person to get a bite may win a prise!

Of course, Samhain is all about celebrating the harvest, so apple games are traditionally a great way to celebrate with the fruits of that labour.

3. Colcannon

Pic: Bord Bia

Seeking love or money? Colcannon is a traditional Halloween food in Ireland, where a surprise may be hidden inside. Coins may be found to keep, or even possibly a ring- which means you will be wed within the year!

4. Anti-Fairy Measures

It was believed that fairies and goblins would roam the earth on Halloween night in search of souls to collect. In order to protect yourself from such a fate, you must throw dust from under your feet, and the fairies will release the captured souls. Spooky!

5. Bairin Brack

Pic: Donal Skehan

Brack is a classic Irish Halloween cake, which can have multiple gifts hidden within, each with its own special meaning. Each guest takes a slice to predict their fortune.

Here’s what the different gifts mean:

The rag – your financial future is doubtful

The coin – you will have a prosperous year

The ring – impending romance or continued happiness

The thimble – you’ll never marry

6. Bonfire Night

Traditionally, Samhain was seen as the time when the layer between worlds was at its thinnest, meaning that spirits could roam the earth on Halloween night.

In order to ward off any evil spirits or bad fortunes for the year ahead, the community would gather around these huge fires!

Words by Rebekah O’Reilly


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