Hallowe’en in Ireland: 5 Creepy Celtic Customs

Did you know that Halloween comes from an Ancient Celtic Festival? 

The Hibernian Heritage of Hallowe’en

Hallowe’een (or Oíche Shamhna in Irish) comes from the Celtic festival of Samhain  (pronounced Sow-wan). This festival marked the division between the light and dark seasons that made up the Celtic calendar. These seasons were also thought to symbolize the boundary between the world of the living and the world of the dead.

Oiche Shamhna was seen as a time of transition and as such it was believed that this one night marked the weakening of this otherwise robust boundary and Otherworld creatures invaded the world of the living. This offered an opportunity to all kinds of supernatural creatures to wreak absolute havoc:

On All-Hallows’ Eve, hobgoblins, evil spirits, and fairies, hold high revel,  and that they are travelling abroad in great numbers.

~ Lageniensis,  Irish Folk Lore (1870)

Why Do We Dress Up for Hallowe’en?

With so many malevolent magical creatures running rampant, fairy abductions were a real fear on Oíche Shamhna. In order to confuse these ghastly ghouls, many people disguised themselves as magical creatures, wearing scary masks or costumes.

Bobbing for Apples on Hallowe’en

There are a number of games associated with Hallowe’en dating back hundreds of years. To this day, Bobbing For Apples remains a firm favorite among Irish families. To play this game, gather several small apples and stick several coins in them. Place the apples in the largest bowl you can find. Every person then takes turns trying to pluck the apple from the water using only their teeth! Be warned, this game can get messy so be sure to have plenty of towels to hand!


See the Future with A Hallowe’en Brack

The Barmbrack lies at the very heart of Halloween celebrations in Ireland. On Halloween Night, family members gather round the table to cut into the Halloween Brack to discover their future! Special charms are hidden within this delicious cake which according to tradition dictate the future of whoever gets it in their slice. To get the full recipe and to learn the secret Hallowe’en Brack code visit our blog: Traditional Irish Halloween Barmbrack Recipe ?

 Header Image: Daniel Maclise [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons
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