Halloween, Interesting Stories, Irish Traditions

IRISH HALLOWEEN TRADITION – BARMBRACK

There are many Irish Halloween traditions in Ireland. One of my favorites is barmbrack.
Barmbrack is at the very core of the Irish Halloween traditions. The Halloween Brack, much like Christmas pudding traditionally contained various objects baked into the sweet bread. These various items were used as fortune-telling. In the barmbrack items like a pea, a stick, a piece of cloth, a small coin (originally a silver sixpence) and a ring were traditionally used. When an item is received in the slice, had a meaning for that person. For instance if you got the pea, the person would not marry that year, the stick, you’ll have an unhappy marriage , the cloth or rag meant bad luck or you’ll be poor; the coin of course meant you’ll have good fortune or be rich and the ring, meant you would be wed within the year. Other items also added to the brack were medals, usually of the Virgin Mary to symbolize going into the priesthood or becoming a nun, although this tradition isn’t very popular today.

Recipe
INGREDIENTS

1 teaspoon dry active yeast
⅔ cup/158 milliliters lightly warmed milk
1 egg, beaten
1 ⅔ cups/214 grams all-purpose flour, plus flour for dusting
¼ teaspoon cinnamon 12002851_1068039236547381_8260594681565605031_n
¼ teaspoon clove
¼ teaspoon mace ( Mace is made from the lacy, red outer coating that covers the shell around the nutmeg kernel. )
½ teaspoon salt
2 tablespoons/28 grams unsalted butter, softened, more for greasing pan
¼ cup/50 grams granulated sugar
½ cup/75 grams golden raisins
½ cup/75 grams black raisins
½ cup/75 grams currants
1 teaspoon grated lemon zest
1 teaspoon grated orange zest

In a small bowl, whisk the yeast and milk together. Leave it to bubble slowly in a warm spot 10 minutes, then whisk in the beaten egg.
In a large mixing bowl or the bowl of a stand mixer, put the flour, cinnamon, clove, mace, salt, butter and sugar. Mix well, incorporating butter with fingertips (or paddle, if using mixer) until absorbed.
Pour the yeast-milk-egg mixture into the flour mixture and stir with a wooden spoon (or dough hook, with mixer).
When the dough begins to come together, add the raisins, currants, lemon zest and orange zest, then mix to combine. It will be somewhat sticky dough. Dust lightly with flour, turn out onto a floured surface and knead for a few minutes until the dough feels smooth. Pat dough into a rectangle.
Butter a loaf pan and lay in the dough, pushing down so dough covers bottom of pan. Stretch plastic wrap loosely over pan and put in a warm place, covered with a kitchen towel, for about an hour, until doubled in size. Uncover.
Heat oven to 350 degrees and center a rack in the oven. Bake loaf on the centered rack for 45 minutes, until well browned. Carefully tip the loaf out of the pan onto a cooling rack. To tell whether it’s done, thump the bottom of the loaf with your fingertips; it should sound hollow. Let cool to room temperature before slicing, if possible. ( NYT recipe)

 

Happy Halloween!

To wish someone a happy Halloween, you can say:

Oíche Shamhna Shona Duit (EE-hyeh HOW-nuh HUN-uh ditch*)

http://www.theirishjewelrycompany.com/

Celtic Legends, Halloween, Irish Traditions

The Origins of Halloween Costumes

On Halloween night children would dress up in scary costumes and go house to house. ‘Help the Halloween Party’ and ‘Trick or Treat’ were the cries to be heard at each door.

This tradition of wearing costumes also dates back to Celtic times. On the special night when the living and the dead were at their closest the Celtic Druids would dress up in elaborate costumehalloween kidss to disguise themselves as spirits and devils in case they encountered other devils and spirits during the night. By disguising they hoped that they would be able to avoid being carried away at the end of the night. This explains why witches, goblins and ghosts remain the most popular choices for the costumes.

Celtic Legends, Halloween, Irish Traditions

The Dullahan, the Irish Headless Horseman

Have you ever heard about “The Dullahan”, the Irish Headless Horseman?

The Irish legend of the Dullahan, or English translation “dark man” is unnerving. The AdobeStock_56147609.jpegHeadless Horseman or Dullahan is the Irish foreteller of death. The Dullahan rides a jet black horse with flames shooting from its eyes, carrying his head under one arm. Irish folklore says that when he stops riding, a human dies.
There are many versions of this scary tale. Some say that the Dullahan throws buckets of blood at people he passes, while other say he simply calls out the name of the mortal that will soon die.


But as with most evil entities the Dullahan has a weakness. The Dullahan can not stand the sight of GOLD. So you would be wise when traveling on this Halloween to carry a wee bit of in case you have a run-in with this headless horror!
Celtic Holidays, Celtic Legends, Halloween, Interesting Stories, Irish Traditions

The Pooka In Irish Folklore

The púca (Irish for spirit/ghost), pooka, phouka, phooka, phooca, puca or púka is primarily a creature of Celtic folklore. Considered to be bringers both of good and bad fortune, they could either help or hinder rural and marine communities.The Púca can have dark or staunch white fur or hair. The creatures were said to be shape changers which could take the appearance of horses, goats, cats, dogs, and hares. They may also take a human form, which includes various animal features, such as ears or a tail.

The Phooka
Faeries by Brian Froud and Alan Lee

 

Celtic Legends, Halloween, Irish Traditions

Irish Halloween Traditions

halloween 1000x360

Samhain (pronounced /ˈsɑːwɪn/ SAH-win or /ˈsaʊ.ɪn/ SOW-in, Irish pronunciation: [sˠəuɪnʲ]) is a Gaelic festival marking the end of the harvest season and the beginning of winter or the “darker half” of the year. Traditionally, it is celebrated from 31 October to 1 November, as the Celtic day began and ended at sunset.
Colcannon for Dinner:
Boiled Potato, Curly Kale (a cabbage) and raw Onions are provided as the traditional Irish Halloween dinner. Clean coins are wrapped in baking paper and placed in the potato for children to find and keep.
The Barnbrack Cake:
The traditional Halloween cake in Ireland is the barnbrack which is a fruit bread. Each member of the family gets a slice. Great interest is taken in the outcome as there is a piece of rag, a coin and a ring in each cake. If you get the rag then your financial future is doubtful. If you get the coin then you can look forward to a prosperous year. Getting the ring is a sure sign of impending romance or continued happiness.
The Ivy Leaf:
Each member of the family places a perfect ivy leaf into a cup of water and it is then left undisturbed overnight. If, in the morning, a leaf is still perfect and has not developed any spots then the person who placed the leaf in the cup can be sure of 12 months health until the following Halloween. If not…..
The Pumpkin:
Carving Pumpkins dates back to the eighteenth century and to an Irish blacksmith named Jack who colluded with the Devil and was denied entry to Heaven. He was condemned to wander the earth but asked the Devil for some light. He was given a burning coal ember which he placed inside a turnip that he had gouged out.Thus, the tradition of Jack O’ Lanterns was born – the bearer being the wandering blacksmith – a damned soul. Villagers in Ireland hoped that the lantern in their window would keep the wanderer away. When the Irish emigrated in their millions to America there was not a great supply of turnips so pumpkins were used instead.
Halloween Costumes:
On Halloween night children would dress up in scary costumes and go house to house. ‘Help the Halloween Party’ and ‘Trick or Treat’ were the cries to be heard at each door. This tradition of wearing costumes also dates back to Celtic times. On the special night when the living and the dead were at their closest the Celtic Druids would dress up in elaborate costumes to disguise themselves as spirits and devils in case they encountered other devils and spirits during the night. By disguising they hoped that they would be able to avoid being carried away at the end of the night. This explains why witches, goblins and ghosts remain the most popular choices for the costumes.
Snap Apple:
After the visits to the neighbours the Halloween games begin, the most popular of which is Snap Apple. An apple is suspended from a string and children are blindfolded. The first child to get a decent bite of the apple gets to keep their prize. The same game can be played by placing apples in a basin of water and trying to get a grip on the apple without too much mess!
The Bonfire:
The Halloween bonfire is a tradition to encourage dreams of who your future husband or wife is going to be. The idea was to drop a cutting of your hair into the burning embers and then dream of you future loved one. Halloween was one of the Celt ‘fire’ celebrations.
Blind Date:
Blindfolded local girls would go out into the fields and pull up the first cabbage they could find. If their cabbage had a substantial amount of earth attached to the roots then their future loved one would have money. Eating the cabbage would reveal the nature of their future husband – bitter or sweet!

Another way of finding your future spouse is to peel an apple in one go. If done successfully the single apple peel could be dropped on the floor to reveal the initials of the future-intended.

Anti-Fairy Measures:
Fairies and goblins try to collect as many souls as they can at Halloween but if they met a person who threw the dust from under their feet at the Fairy then they would be obliged to release any souls that they held captive.Holy Water:

Holy water was sometimes anointed on farm animals to keep them safe during the night. If the animals were showing signs of ill health on All Hallows Eve then they would be spat on to try to ward off any evil spirits.

Celtic Legends, Halloween, Interesting Stories

The Dullahan – The Irish Headless Horseman

The Irish legend of the Dullahan, or English translation “dark man” is unnerving. The Headless Horseman or Dullahan is the Irishdullahan the irish jewelry company foreteller of death. The Dullahan rides a jet black horse with flames shooting from its eyes, carrying his head under one arm. Irish folklore says that when he stops riding, a human dies.


There are many versions of this scary tale. Some say that the Dullahan throws buckets of blood at people he passes, while other say he simply calls out the name of the mortal that will soon die.
But as with most evil entities the Dullahan has a weakness. The Dullahan can not stand the sight of GOLD. So you would be wise when traveling on this Halloween to carry a wee bit of in case you have a run-in with this headless horror!

Halloween, Interesting Stories, Irish Traditions

Irish Fairies and Anti Fairy Measures

In Ireland there are fairies, good natured and there are FAIRIES. If you’ve ever traveled at night on the winding Irish back roads in the countryside of Ireland you would know it is a kind of eerie darkness that puts fear in your very heart. One can easily imagine something moving over the moors or hearing the forlorn screech of a dammed fairy.

celtic fairyAs a child in Ireland you are warned to not play inside a fairy fort because the fairies don’t like it and might curse you or worse they might fancy you. Fairy forts are mounds or hills found all over Ireland. They are the ruins of circular mound dwellings in which people lived during the Iron Age such as Newgrange.

‘Away with the fairies’ is an old Irish expression referring to someone whose mind is elsewhere. It originated with the belief in the folklore that mischievous fairies steal souls and carry children off to the underworld, leaving changelings in their place.
A Changeling is a creature thought to be the offspring of a fairy that has been secretly left in the place of a human child. It is thought that fairies often fancy mortals and steal their pretty children. They carry the babies away leaving behind a Changeling, an ailing fairy child, or a log of wood so bewitched that they seems to be a mortal pining away in bewilderment.
They say if you wear your clothing inside out or wear bells you can ward off the malevolent fairies.

Anti-Fairy Measures for Halloween:12047118_10156157606690245_1081658573287531121_n

There is an old Irish folklore that warns of fairies and goblins that try to collect as many souls as they can at Halloween. Folklore says if you through the dust from under your feet at the Fairy then they would be obliged to release any souls that they held captive.

Halloween

The Banshee | Scream of the Banshee

The Banshee…. bean-sidhe (woman of the fairy may be an ancestral spirit appointed to forewarn members of certain ancient 220px-BansheeIrish families of their time of death. According to tradition, the banshee can only cry for five major Irish families: the O’Neills, the O’Briens, the O’Connors, the O’Gradys and the Kavanaghs. Intermarriage has since extended this select list.
Whatever her origins, the banshee chiefly appears in one of three guises: a young woman, a stately matron or a raddled old hag. These represent the triple aspects of the Celtic goddess of war and death, namely Badhbh, Macha and Mor-Rioghain.) She usually wears either a grey, hooded cloak or the winding sheet or grave robe of the unshriven dead. She may also appear as a washer-woman, and is seen apparently washing the blood stained clothes of those who are about to die. In this guise she is known as the bean-nighe (washing woman).
Although not always seen, her mourning call is heard, usually at night when someone is about to die.

Halloween, Irish Recipes, Irish Traditions

Barmbrack Recipe

Barmbrack is the center of an Irish Halloween custom. The Halloween Brack traditionally contained various objects baked into the bread and was used as a sort of fortune-telling game. In the barmbrack were: a pea, a stick, a piece of cloth, a small coin (originally a silver sixpence) and a ring. Each item, when received in the slice, was supposed to carry a meaning to the person concerned: the pea, the person would not marry that year; the stick, would have an unhappy marriage or continually be in disputes; the cloth or rag, would have bad luck or be 12002851_1068039236547381_8260594681565605031_npoor; the coin, would enjoy good fortune or be rich; and the ring, would be wed within the year. Other articles added to the brack include a medallion, usually of the Virgin Mary to symbolize going into the priesthood or to the Nuns, although this tradition is not widely continued in the present day.

Barmbrack (Irish: bairín breac), also called Barnbrack or often shortened to brack, is a yeasted bread with added sultanas and raisins.

Barm Brack – Arán Breac (Speckled Bread)
Ingredients:
1 lb flour
6 oz sugar
1 lb mixed dried fruit
1 tsp baking powder
1 egg
1 tsp all spice/mixed spice
Pot of hot Irish tea

The Irish ‘lucky’ ingredients: (can be a choking hazard for small children)
‘gold’ ring, to foretell marriage within a year
small coin, to forecast wealth
small piece of cloth to forecast poverty
little piece matchstick to forecast the husband will beat his wife
thimble to forecast spinsterhood
button to forecast bachelorhood

Method:
Wrap each ‘lucky’ item carefully in wax paper.
The trick to making a Barm Brack like soda bread is the soaking of fruit overnight in the
tea. While this makes the dried fruit softer and more appealing in general,
one must be careful when mixing the dough not to over-knead or the
re-hydrated fruit will crumble. Add the sugar and egg to the fruit mix the next day. Sift in the remaining dry ingredients. Mix gently. Stir in the wrapped ‘lucky’ items and try to distribute them evenly. Use a 7″ round
baking tin at 350°F for 80 minutes. Cool on a wire baking rack.

The Brack can be made a week in advance and stored in an air-tight
container. It is traditional that only he/she who has baked the cake should
cut and serve the slices, as only he/she may know where are the ‘lucky’
items and will distribute them equitably!!