Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

Hallowe'en Celebrated in Real Irish Style

Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

Hallowe'en Celebrated in Real Irish Style

Article excerpt

Byline: By Hugh Oram

Hallowe'en is an old traditional festival in Ireland, dating back 2,000 years to ancient Celtic times and is celebrated every year on October 31.

Originally, the festival was designed to mark the passing of summer into winter and to honour those who had passed on. Today, while it's more of a time for fun and frolics, it remains a traditional family occasion.

It's an especially magical time in Ireland, when lots of witches are about. Watch out for low flying broomsticks!

The countryside in Ireland looks radiant, with leaves turned golden and mists rising from the lakes. It's the time for ghosts and ghoulies, a big highlight of the autumn season in Ireland. Many of the age old Hallowe'en rituals are still celebrated throughout Ireland, sometimes with public events.

The city of Derry stages a very popular Hallowe'en festival every year, while down in Dingle, Co Kerry, a traditional Celtic festival with a distinctly Irish flavour is being held this year.

It all goes back to when the ancient Celts celebrated Samhain (pronounced "sowan"), or All Hallowtide. Those who had passed on came back to the mortal world, an occasion of great feasting. Then in the 8th Century, November 1 was designated All Saints Day for those saints who didn't have a particular day of remembrance. The night before became known as All Hallows Eve, which eventually turned into Hallowe'en, a fusing of ancient Celtic and more modern Church traditions.

Many of the ghostly old Hallowe'en rituals are still widely celebrated in Ireland on October 31. Children dress up as witches or ghoulies and go from house to house shouting out the time honoured phrase "trick or treat".

You'll also see lots of hollowed out pumpkins with lighted candles. This is actually a much newer tradition, but it's so popular that in many shops and supermarkets in Ireland, you'll see pumpkins for sale, alongside the Hallowe'en masks.

In the 18th Century, a particularly nasty blacksmith called Jack was denied entry to heaven and the devil didn't want him in hell - too much competition. So the devil gave him a lighted coal ember to light his way as he wandered the earth forever. He put the ember in a scooped out turnip and so began the legend of Jack O'Lantern. In the 19th Century, turnips became very scarce in Ireland, so people started using pumpkins to put a light in their front window and it's been that way ever since. In the US, for instance, where turnips have never been grown, pumpkins have always been used.

You'll also find the Hallowe'en bonfire tradition is widely celebrated and again, this is a throwback to ancient Celtic times.

Special Hallowe'en foods remain very popular in Ireland. Barm brack is a lovely sweet bread, made with spices and dried fruits and it's still very widely baked and sold in Ireland, in bakery shops and in supermarkets. …

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