On the 31st of October, Samhain Night or Pooky Night as it’s sometimes called, is Ireland’s night of ghosts and ghouls. Traditionally Irish children have salt sprinkled on their hair to ward off evil spirits.
Originating way back around 100 AD, Ireland’s All Hallows Eve is a festival that has continued throughout the ages. Irish immigrants transported the tradition to North America.. Australians call it mischief night and in the United States and Canada it’s just plain Halloween. Dia de Los Muertos (Day of the Dead) is the Mexican version and the celebration continues from the 1st to the 2nd of November.
Travel to Ireland for ghostly happenings on the eve of Halloween
It is undoubtedly a night of magic and mystery, ghosts and ghouls, horror and hellfire – all the elements that arouse primeval fear in humans are heavily present. On October 31st in Ireland, bonfires are lit on hilltops, in villages and in towns throughout the country as a guide for spirits coming to spend their one night a year on earth. The other function of these blazing infernos is to deter evil spirits.
In the City of Derry fairies are said to be out and about on the eve of Halloween. Derry renowned for its hauntings, promotes its Halloween night as the most spook-tacular in the country. Visit the city’s haunted Castle Bar on Waterloo Street, the Playhouse, the Guildhall or the Foyle’s Art Centre, all with their own resident ghosts, and you are in for ghostly thrills.
Like the sixpence or the button in an English Christmas pudding – sixpence meaning wealth and the button the status of an Old Maid – in Ireland the Halloween fruit bread, known as Barnbrack, is traditionally eaten on All Hallows Eve. It contains either a coin for wealth, a ring for romance, a thimble for spinsterhood, or a rag for poverty. For those who believe in the ancient traditions of the past, each bite of Barnbrack is a cause for anxiety. Wherever in the world Halloween is celebrated, carved Jack O Lanterns or turnips, ghosts, witches and their cats are on display.
Many believe that the spirits of the dead return in the form of a cats. The costumes worn by Celts in the past on Halloween were representative of the ghosts and ghouls that visit the land of the living on that one night each year, and so the tradition for children to wear costumes for their trick-or-treat meanderings through neighborhoods, continues to this day.