Did you know that Halloween has ancient origins in Ireland? It was originally called Samhain, and the day marked the end of the harvest season for Celtic farmers. Irish immigrants brought their traditions to America and adapted to their new surroundings. Originally, large turnips were hollowed out as Jack o Lanterns, but pumpkins are so much easier to carve.
Halloween also has religious connections. The root word of Halloween – ”hallow” – means ”holy.” The suffix “een” is an abbreviation of “evening.” It refers to the Eve of All Hallows, the night before the Christian holy day that honors saintly people of the past. All Saints’ Day on Nov. 1, which is followed by All Souls’ Day on Nov. 2. “Souling” was the original trick-or-treat activity held around the same time.
Traditional Halloween Foods
The Irish still celebrate Halloween with food traditions. Here are just a few.
Barmbrack means “speckled cake”. It is baked in either a loaf pan or cake pan depending on your family tradition. The brack foretells the future. Baked with charms, a piece is served to each member of the family, and your piece may contain a charm which will determine your fate:
- A coin: good things, hopefully riches, on the way
- A ring: you’ll be married within the year
- A snippet of cloth: rags, poverty, bad luck in the year ahead
Trick or Treating originated in Britain and Ireland on All Souls Day. Children and the poor would go “souling”, going door-to-door singing songs, saying prayers for homeowners, and performing other tasks to receive a soul cake:
A soul! A soul! A soul-cake!
Please good Missis, a soul-cake!
An apple, a pear, a plum, or a cherry,
Any good thing to make us all merry.
One for Peter, two for Paul
Three for Him who made us all.
This is a cabbage and potato dish, also known as bubble and squeak in other parts of the UK. Leftovers make scrumptious colcannon cakes.
There is nothing as comforting as stew when it is cold outside. Celebrate Branson’s heritage with the way the Irish prepare stew, with beer added.