Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Halloween Traditions in Bantry

This is the original published sort version of Halloween agus Samhian

This post on our timeline by Maureen Hurley is so good we decided to share it with you all. Thanks Maureen.

Hallowe'en (aka All Hallows Eve—an Irish Catholic tradition supplanted older pagan Samhain traditions) was introduced to Scotland. And then it was introduced to America by the Irish, not the Scots.

As a child, my grandmother carved turnips (or swedes, or mangles—any big pithy round roots used for cow fodder) in Bantry during the 1890s. Turnips were used as lanterns, candles were placed in the window. It was also a tradition to let the hearth fire die, clean the hearth, and then the sacred tradition of relighting it—from the flame of those travelling turnips. Out with the old, in with the new. It was New Year's Eve, after all!

Wearing masks (as a disguise) and using bull roarers to scare off spirits—were all part and parcel of a long ongoing tradition of Hallowe'en. My grannie was thoroughly disgusted by the American tradition of Trick or Treat. She said in Ireland, one had to dance and sing, or recite a poem or story, and then, if one was good, they might be given a treat, or a ha-penny if they were very, very good. One was expected to trot out one's best pony show. Move over, Simon Cowell.

As to the Scottish Hallowe'en connection: much of Glasgow (and River Clyde) environs—especially the slums—was heavily settled and continuously resettled by waves of itinerant Catholic Irish workers—through the industrial revolution.


Someone wrote in another post: "a small fact that Halloween started in Scotland in 16th century and this was a A modern jack-o'-lantern is typically a carved pumpkin, although originally typically large turnips. It is associated chiefly with the holiday of Samhain and Halloween and was named after the phenomenon of strange light flickering over peat bogs, called ignis fatuus or jack-o'"

That became the impetus to write this piece. 

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