Tuesday, 30 October 2012

Oíche Shamhna Shona Duit ! (or Happy Halloween !)

Halloween really is one of my favourite holidays of the year. Growing up in Ireland Halloween meant being off school for mid term, but more than that, hailing from a country which is steeped in myths, legends and folklore, Halloween had a powerful charge - it was the one night of the year when the boundary between the Otherworld and the Human world dissolved and the spirits drifted among the living - wailing banshees, child snatching Leprechauns and demonic shape-shifters - and we kids kept our eyes peeled for any that would cross our path... This year, we've stockpiled the sweets for the neighbourhood kids and when they call to the door in their bin-liner costumes and lucky bag masks and we'll put on a show and scream the house down like Marilyn Burns...

And so the legend goes...

Carving Pumpkins dates back to the eighteenth century and to an Irish blacksmith named Jack who colluded with the Devil and was denied entry to Heaven. He was condemned to wander the earth but asked the Devil for some light. He was given a burning coal ember which he placed inside a turnip that he had gouged out. Thus, the tradition of Jack O'Lanterns was born - the bearer being the wandering blacksmith - a damned soul. When the Irish emigrated in their millions to America there was not a great supply of turnips so pumpkins were used instead...


2 comments:

  1. Ha! Hope you had a great Halloween, Wes. I also stockpiled a mountain of sweets in preparation for the trick or treaters. Alas, I only had a few so ended up gorging myself on all manner of sugary goodness. I carved a turnip this year too; could NOT obtain a pumpkin anywhere. Oh well. Besides, like you say, turnips are more traditional in this part of the world.

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  2. It was quiet James ! We had one kid call to the house and that was it! My wife ended up bringing all the sweets into her work the following day. I didn't indulge as I'm not gone on sweets... I watched Halloween on Wednesday night (an annual thing on Halloween) and the film needs a rest for a few years. I knew it when I started pondering Who thought Michael Myers to drive a car ? and Who closed the door of Bob's van after he left it wide open ?...

    I should add that pumpkin in the pic above was not mine ! We were in a hotel in Kerry, the w/end before Halloween and he was sitting in the dining room. The entire hotel was decked out in pumpkins, made by hotel staff - the one from the kitchen staff was the best - the pumpkin was studded with pins - must have been a Hellraiser fan among them !

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