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The History of Halloween in Ireland

Do you know the true meaning and history behind Halloween? 

Halloween began as a pagan celebration over 2,000 years ago in Ireland as part of a festival known as ‘Samhain’. Traditionally celebrated on the 31st of October – 1st November, the Celtic festival of Samhain celebrates the end of the annual harvest and the coming of Winter. Samhain consisted of many different acts and rituals, all of which began in Ireland and created what we now know as Halloween! 

Why do the Irish celebrate Samhain? 

Due to the long, dark Winter nights, many believed that the 31st of October was the day the portal between the real world and the 'other world' became blurred. This meant the Aos Sí (spirits), banshees and púkas (ghosts) could slip into our world and cause mischief.  

The good spirits, those of close friends and family members, were thought to return home and visit their loved ones on this night. communities would leave a fire burning and make a large feast. It is believed that the Celts would wear masks and costumes to disguise themselves from any other evil spirits that may be roaming around – and such created the concept of wearing costumes at Halloween - something we still see to this day!

How is Halloween celebrated in Ireland now? 

Halloween, or Oíche Shamhna in Irish, is today a fun holiday to see family and friends, dress up, play games and of course eat sweet treats! Halloween has come a long way from its origin in Ireland as the tradition festival of Samhain, but it is clear that many of its traditions remain.  

After the mass emigration of over 2 million Irish people due to the Great Famine, with them came their customs and traditions. The celebration of Samhain and the stories surrounding it remained, and is now the holiday we know and love as Halloween! 

October 19, 2022
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