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Ireland: Home of Hallowe'en

Did you know that Ireland is the original Home of Hallowe’en?

The story of Hallowe’en begins in Ireland over 1,000 years ago, with the ancient Celtic festival Samhain.

Learn how Ireland is the original Home of Hallowe’en here:

 Would you like to try the Irish Hallowe’en cake, Barmbrack?

Barmbrack is an autumnal staple in Ireland, and a delicious addition to any Hallowe’en feast! Did you know that traditionally, several very unusual ingredients were baked inside a Barmbrack, including a ring and a coin? Each item held a different meaning and were thought to predict the future for the year ahead.

Discover how to bake your own Barmbrack in a few simple steps here:

Hallowe’en in Ireland also means lots of games!

Did you know that many Hallowe’en games revolve around Apples and Fortune Telling?

Why not join in the fun and try these games with your family this year?

The Story of Hallowe’en:

The story of Hallowe’en begins in Ireland over 1,000 years ago, with the ancient Celtic festival Samhain.

Samhain was an important event in the Celtic year, celebrating the harvest, and marking the division between the “light half of the year” and the “dark half of the year”. Many of today’s Hallowe’en traditions can trace their roots to Samhain.

The ancient Celts believed that the spirit world was closer to the mortal world at Samhain, and that the souls of the dead could return to Earth, as well as mischievous “púcaí”, fairies and evil spirits. For this reason, the Celts wore masks to disguise themselves from these unwelcome beings: the original Hallowe’en costumes!

Trick-or-treating also dates back to this time, when people would beg for food, known as “soul cakes”, and offer prayers for the dead in exchange.

At Samhain, it was traditional to light large, communal fires, or bonfires. The word “bonfire” or in Irish “tine cnámh” comes from the ancient Celtic custom of adding the bones of dead animals to these fires, which were then spread on the land in the belief that this would ensure a bountiful harvest in the year to come. Household fires were extinguished at Samhain, and people would carry an ember from the bonfire home, using a lantern carved out of a turnip.

Over time, the Christian calendar incorporated elements of traditional pagan festivals, and Samhain eventually evolved into All Hallows Eve, or Hallowe’en.

The tradition of Hallowe’en spread to America in the nineteenth century, when Irish people emigrated in great numbers, and over the years traditional Samhain customs have evolved. For example, Irish emigrants to America began carving pumpkins instead, because turnips were hard to find.

Irish emigrants brought the tradition of Hallowe’en to their new homes around the world, which is why it is celebrated today!