Celtic Legends, Halloween, Interesting Stories

The Halloween Samhain Bonfire in Ireland

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THE BONFIRE

The Halloween Superstition says the bonfire is an Irish 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. The bonfire has long been associated with Halloween and continues to be a common tradition in much of the Halloween celebrating world.

The ancient practice of lighting large fires dates back to the festival of Samhain  now known as Halloween. It is the celebration of summer’s end and the beginning of the dark season or winter. Samhain marks the end of the harvest and the old year. It is also the beginning of the new year and up coming harvest season . On the eve of Samhain, young people would go from house to house asking for offerings of food and kindling for the Samhain bonfires fires. The following day, the traditional day of Samhain, November 1st, people would extinguish their hearth fires and gather together to light large fires on sacred hill tops in honor of and to make offerings to the gods.

 

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

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 HALLOWEEN TRADITIONS and Samhain History

Samhain greeting card

The Celts celebrated Halloween as Samhain, ‘All Hallowtide’ – the ‘Feast of the Dead’, when the dead revisited the mortal world. The celebration marked the end of Summer and the start of the Winter months.

During the eighth century the Catholic Church designated the first day of November as ‘All Saints Day’ (‘All Hallows’) – a day of commemoration for those Saints that did not have a specific day of remembrance. The night before was known as ‘All Hallows Eve’ which, over time, became known as Halloween.

Here are the most notable Irish Halloween Traditions:

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.

halloween_300aThus, 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 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.

Happy Halloween from Ireland!

Irish Halloween Traditions – An article provided by The Information about Ireland Site.

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Halloween, Irish Recipes

Lambs Wool

lambs wool

After you feast on traditional Irish foods on Halloween you will need to wash it down with an old drink called Lambswool. The name Lambswool is believed to be derivative of the Irish Gaelic, “La Mas Nbhal” meaning ‘Feast of the Apples. The Gaelic saying was pronounced “Lammas-ool”. This ultimately evolved into Lambswool. There are several of recipes for Lambswool that exist. But the drink basically consists of baked crushed apples(cored and crushed without skins), which are added to milk, and hot spiced ale, hard cider and or wine. Grate in nutmeg and some ginger. Add sugar according to taste.

About This Recipe

“This is a traditional cider drink that was made and enjoyed on Twelfth Night (January 16-17) in Elizabethan England. It is said that it gets its name from the whiteness of the roasted apples as they fluff out of their skins while they cook. I haven’t made it yet, but I cant let go of the recipe every time I go to clean out my recipe box.”

Ingredients

    • 4 pints real ale ( Newcastle or similar)
    • 2 -3 large apples
    • 1 cup hard alcoholic cider ( such as Woodchuck or Hornsby’s)
    • 1 cinnamon stick
    • 3 cloves
    • sugar

Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 180°C: 350°F: Gas 4.
  2. Core the apples and bake in 350 degree oven for about 40 minutes until very soft.
  3. Squeeze all of the pulp from the apples and discard the skins then fluff the puree with a fork.
  4. Heat the ale and cider with the cinnamon stick and cloves.
  5. Add the apple puree and sugar to taste.
  6. Serve immediately.

Recipe courtesy of Food.com

Celtic Legends, Halloween

The Banshee

220px-BansheeThe Banshee,  bean-sidhe (woman of the fairy may be an ancestral spirit appointed to forewarn members of certain ancient Irish 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.

Celtic Legends, Halloween

The Celtic Owl

The word “cailleach” in the Scottish-Gaelic means old woman!, Owl in Gaelic is “cauileach-oidhche” , believe it or not it means “night-cockerel” or “white old woman of the night.” Because the owl was most often associated with the Crone aspect of the Celtic Hag Goddess “Cailleach”. The owl is often a guide to and through the Underworld, a creature of keen sight in darkness, and a silent and swift hunter. Celtic folklore says the wise owl can give you wisdom by helping unmask those who would deceive you or take advantage of you. “Hoo” knew?

Our Celtic Owl pendant and earrings with diamond eyes are fierce creatures, wise and omniscient, not to mention ultra-trendy and stylish. These fashionable nocturnal birds are a ‘hoot’ to wear day or night of course.

celtic owl jewelry cr

Celtic Holidays, Celtic Legends, Halloween

Irish Halloween Folklore….. Have you ever heard of a pooka?

The “Pooka” or in Irish púca (Irish for spirit/ghost), is primarily a goblin like creature in traditional Irish folklore. The pooka is considered to be both a bringer of good and bad fortune. The pooka could either help or hinder rural and mariner communities. The goblin like creatures were said to be shape shifters which could take the appearance of black horses, goats and rabbits.

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