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Oíche Shamhna

Samhain, Hallowe’en marks the end of Samhradh, or summer. It is the start of one of the four main Celtic seasons: Imbolc (Spring), Bealtaine, Lughnasa and Samhain.

As it was the end of summer and the beginning of Winter, or the dark season, there are many associations with darkness and ‘the other world.’ This was a time to gather the crops, salt the meat, batten down the hatches and bury the hatchets! Imagine, the scene: large family +small cabin +bad blood= disaster. So, debts were cleared. Failure to do so meant the creditor could play a trick or two, followed by dressing up to scare the debtor, if necessary. Origins of trick or treat, perhaps?

Fadó, fadó lanterns were made from cut-out turnips. The Celts had no fear of the dead because they believed in re-incarnation, but with the coming of Christianity(and the notions of heaven and hell), fear of the dead grew, and people started drawing scary faces on the turnips, and instead of leaving food for the dead ancestors in the kitchen, it was left at the door.

The Irish brought Hallowe’en to America, but it has come back, in spades, and pumpkins have replaced turnips! Beannachtaí na Féile oraibh go léir!

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