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One of the Irish traditions for Halloween was to have Colcannon for dinner, which is a boiled potato with kale and raw onions. They would clean coins and wrap them in baking paper, and hide the coin in the potato for the children to find.
Another tradition is the Barnbrack Cake, which is a type of fruitcake. Within the cake there is hidden: rags (meaning a doubtful financial future), rings (happiness or love) and coins (prosperous future). Depending on what slice you happen to get, this would determine your future for the year.
Another way to determine your future was to put an Ivy leaf in a cup of water and leave it over night. If the leaf wasn’t spotty then it meant that you would be healthy all year.
How many of you carve pumkins on Halloween? This tradition dates back to the 18th century. Supposedly, an Irish blacksmith named Jack made a pack with the Devil. He was condemned to wander the earth and asked the Devil for some light. He gave Jack a burning coal ember to put in his gauged out pumpkin.
So the tradition of the Jack O’Lantern with the scary faces is represented of the wandering blacksmith’s damned soul. It is said that Jack actually used a turnip, but when the Irish came to America they were unable to find turnips so used pumpkins instead.
Wearing costumes dates back to Celtic times. The special night when the living and the dead walk the earth. To protect themselves, the Celtic Druids would dress up in elaborate costumes to disguise themselves as spirits and devils in case they ran into the real devil or spirit.
Halloween is one of the Celts fire celebrations. A bonfire is a tradition to encourage dreams of who your future husband or wife is going to be. One would cut a piece of their hair and toss it into the fire in hopes of dreaming of their intended.
Another tradition to find the future husband or wife is to peel an apple in one go. If the person succeeded, the single apple peel would be dropped on the floor to reveal the initials of the future intended.
It was believed that Fairies and goblins would try to collect as many souls as they could at Halloween, but if they met a person who threw dust under their feet they would be obligated to release all the souls that it had captured.
In the beginning years of Christianity, the farm animals were anointed with holy water to keep them safe. If they seemed ill on All Hallow Eve they would spit on them to ward off the evil spirits.
So it would seem that some of our traditions came from Celtic beliefs: wearing costumes, collecting treats, bonfires, Halloween games, and even carving the pumpkin. Though a Halloween party is now all in fun, it at one time was a serious celebration.