We got this message from our good friends
in Melville Intermediate School, Hamilton, New Zealand.
This is our reply:
Most certainly we celebrate Halloween:D
In many ways the more recent additions to our traditions are influenced by the USA,
for example, as you say in your message, dressing up in costumes and going ‘trick or treating’.
However a celebration at this time of year
goes way back into the ‘mists of time’.
Here in the Northern Hemisphere
we needed something to cheer us up
as the cold, dark nights arrive,
so the Celts marked the end of Summer
and the start of the Winter months,
with a celebration called Samhain; ‘All Souls’.
It was said that the souls of those who had passed
into the next world came to visit at this time.
The celebration marked the end of Summer
and the start of the Winter months.
The time of the Celts in Ireland was 2000BC – 400AD.
Here are some Irish Halloween Traditions:
Traditionally for dinner there was ‘Colcannon’;
a plate of mashed potato, cabbage and onion.
Pennies were wrapped up in baking paper
and placed in the mash for children to find and keep!
The traditional Halloween cake is barmbrack which is a fruit cake.
Once again you would have to be careful eating this
or you would break your teeth
because there were ‘tokens’ hidden in it.
If you got the rag then the next year would be a poor one.
If you got the coin then you could look forward to a year of riches.
Finding the ring was said to predict an engagement.
If you wanted to find out who your future partner might be
you were advised to peel an apple in one go.
The single apple peel was then dropped on the floor
to show the initials of this mystery person.
The tradition of Jack O’Lanterns travelled from Ireland to the USA.
But originally the Irish carved out turnips.
When the Irish emigrated to America there was not a great supply of turnips
so pumpkins were used instead. Pumpkins are easier to carve than turnips too!
Though the tradition of wearing costumes and ‘trick or treating’
seems to have been imported from the USA,
a tradition of wearing disguise also dates back to Celtic times.
By disguising themselves people superstitiously believed
that the souls who were visiting would leave them alone.
Halloween Games include ‘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.
A variation of this game involves hanging a bar of soap with the apple.
The risk was then that one would get a mouthful of soap instead of apple.
‘Bobbing for Apples’ can be played by placing apples in a basin of water
and trying to get a grip on the fruit!
The Halloween bonfire is another tradition
and a more modern addition is the use of fireworks,
though they are illegal in Ireland.
It is important to be safe on Halloween.
It may well be that Halloween is a Celtic Tradition from Europe
that travelled with the emigrants to the USA.
In the ‘New World’ these traditions took on a new lease of life
and were re-exported back to Ireland
repackaged perhaps in a more commercial way.
Thanking you for your continuing comments and interest in our blog
all the way from New Zealand 🙂
We wonder does New Zealand have a Halloween Tradition?
With every good wish …
‘If Only The Best Birds Sang’.
UPDATE1: If you click on the ‘KEEP READING’ button below, you can see Mr. Webb’s reply 🙂
UPDATE2: Thank you to Mr Webb who put a link about our blog
on Room 5 Melville’s page HERE.