Author K K Weakley
 

Ireland and Halloween

A holiday typically linked to one of many Celtic festivals, this one, however, is the festival of Shamian, which is pronounced ( sow-an or sow-in)". Like many Irish words, it is like you can see spelled completely different than spoken. Remember Halloween originated from Ireland during a time where the land, people, and nature were worth their weight in gold and long before the arrival of St. Patrick – but like many things that's another conversation. The name of the festival historically derives from Old Irish and means "summer's end". Also known more knowingly as the Festival of the Dead, and you who know your history it also goes by the name of Pomona, dating back as far as the Romans.
We have the carving of the pumpkins as a remembrance of those souls caught in purgatory (which is not a nice thought), so this is why when I do it I like to carve something nice like a butterfly. LOL - What? Their stuck in no man’s land people, give them something. Oh and a piece of somewhat useless information, the Irish and Scottish always used turnips instead.... Anyway, then, come the costumes. Have you ever wondered why so many girls from a young age dress as witches? Is it from the old wives tales of witches and broomsticks, or is it the inner spell casting potion making entities of centuries past coming back to enjoy the festivities? Who knows. Halloween costumes are traditionally modeled after supernatural figures such as monsters, ghosts, skeletons, witches, and for some strange reason, I have seen many a cowboy call to my door. I never thought of Billy the Kid as a Halloween choice but there you go.
So we have Bonfires, barmbrack (an Irish fruit like cake, I FOR ONE HATE IT) toffee apples (yummy), candy corn and candy pumpkins - which I have yet to taste, colcannon. Now before I continue. What the hell is that some of you might be asking yourselves. Well, let me tell you as I dry heave at the memory of my childhood being forced to eat this every Thursday. Unlike these days where kids believe their mother's kitchen a restaurant where they can order and eat whatever they like, my mothers kitchen was an "Eat it or go hungry" This is an Irish dinner consisting of- potatoes, cabbage, turnip. All I can say from experience is that this dish scared my childhood. I think that’s all that needs to be said.

Christianity has its own views on Halloween and it has been brought to our attention that Jesus was born in October and not December as we have always been led to believe. Either people choose to take part in the celebrations of what Halloween is truly about, or they choose to believe it is a dark and somewhat evil celebration where pets and babies are sacrificed. For each their own, but I really hope people do not believe such things. (Individuals who sacrifice anything need to be locked up in a special place where only their own thoughts can keep them company and away from the outside world's level headed thinking) The point being is that Halloween is a time for old traditions, hence the churches and the majority need not share this momentum piece of their religious history with such a thing. I shrug my shoulders at this because it is just one more thing you have to get your mind around.

So enjoy the holiday, try new things, eat things you have never tried and maybe some might venture towards colcannon. HA - someone might like it.


 

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