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Oíche Shamhna Shona! (Happy Halloween in Gaelic)

Children roam the streets dressed as ghouls, goblins, and other things that go “bump” in the night–it’s Halloween! But while American children troll the suburban streets in search of candy and other more sinister things, the children in Ireland, the birthplace of Halloween, build bonfires and eat Barnbrack (a fruitcake that proves that all fall holidays are cursed by this horrible confection). Ireland is a wonderful place to travel any time of the year, however visiting the Emerald Isle during Halloween is an opportunity to celebrate all hallow’s eve in its truest form.

Bon Fires
Shamhna or “summers-end” in Gaelic, celebrates the beginning of fall harvest. One tradition that has been carried from ancient Pagan traditions is the lighting of bonfires. The fires are thought to provide a guiding light for the spirits, allowing them to navigate the rolling hills of Ireland.

Ghoulish Fairy Tales
Have you ever been curious about the origin of the jack-o-lantern or how Halloween became a festival of disguises? The Irish have several legends surrounding these questions with both Pagan and Christian influences. Modern trick-or-treating requires a costume and a cornucopia of candy but when it was first introduced, “guising”, as it was called was about hiding your identity from evil spirits.

Epic Halloween Festivals
If there is one thing the Irish know how to do, it’s throw a party. Halloween parades like the one in Derry City often last the entire weekend and include carnivals and boat parties. Ghost tours of Dublin and Belfast during these festivals are a great way to learn about Irish history as well give yourself the chills. After all, Halloween is not just for kids in costumes!

By Caroline Kellough


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