Halloween Traditions in Dublin

more than a year ago
Halloween or Oíche Samhain originated here in Ireland from the time of the Celts and celebrated the end of summer and  completion of the harvest. The term also means November and symbolises the start of the Celtic New Year. Since then it has spread to most of the Western world.

On the night of October 31 large fires were lit as Celts believed the souls of the dead rose again to join the living and believed that large “bonfires” would keep evil spirits at arms length. In order to keep you one step ahead of the locals here are a few of the traditions, games and foods that they will be talking about. 

Remember this is a feast where playing tricks on people is commonplace. Better to know in advance and be able to play a few in return.
halloween in dublin ireland © pietro-tebaldi-unsplash
Halloween in Dublin © Pietro Tebaldi / Unsplash

Today people think of Halloween as the festival of witches, ghosts, goblins, costumes and fun. In Dublin we celebrate this pagan feast by dressing up in costume and heading to a party. There's often a fair bit of drinking involved,  so don’t be alarmed to see hundreds of people wandering around the city in high spirits all looking like they just hired the entire contents of a costume shop... or just got dressed in the dark.

Iif you're strapped for time, these top three ideas for costumes will help you blend in with the crowd. People do appreciate the  effort, and it's a great way to get chatting to the locals.

Women tend to dress up as 1) teenage girls – not a look everyone can pull off, 2) witches – highly attractive green faces complete with warts or 3) someone from the 1960s.

The top three costumes for men are very easy to do 1) a rugby player complete with mud on the face, 2) very badly dressed ladies – definitely nothing to compete with the drag queens of this city or finally 3) the guy on a beach in the Hawaiian shirt.
halloween in dublin ireland © kenny-eliason-unsplash
Halloween in Dublin © Kenny Eliason / Unsplash

In the midst of this revelry you may stumble across people asking “Trick or Treat?” The trick could be anything but the treat should be a song, poem or dance... the choice is endless. Be warned this is the night of high jinx so all might not be as it seems.

Shops will be stocked with loads of Barmbracks (fruit bread) and pumpkins. The Barmbrack has a number of items hidden in it. If you find one in your slice then your fortune for the following year is foretold. Typically you can find 1) a pea – you will not marry this year, 2) a piece of cloth – bad luck, 3) a stick – a lot of disputes, 4) a coin – riches or good luck and 5) a ring – you will marry in the year. If you do buy a Barmbrack, be careful as most still have a ring hidden inside – so don’t break your teeth.

At parties people still play Hallowe'en games  from their childhood including 'dunking' your head in water for apples, orange or money. Apples are also hung from a piece of string and people take turns trying to take a bite out of it. Finally apples make another appearance with the sticky toffee apple.
Happy Halloween and profitable Trick or Treating to all gouls, ghosts and partygoers.


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