Move over Valentine's Day - Halloween is nearly here, and in olden days in Ireland, this was the time of year for predicting romances, just waiting to flourish.
The Irish were, and still are, a very superstitious race. Since we will be celebrating Halloween at the end of this month (or all through this month, if you live in America), I thought why not explore some old Irish superstitions associated with this holiday, especially those centering around romance, love and marriage.
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Irish Halloween Superstitions
Halloween is a great time for fortune telling and divination according to Irish tradition.
In days gone by Halloween night was a time when the Irish believed the future and past coincided, and for one night only every year, all time frames existed in the present.
If the future collides with the present at Halloween, what better time could there be for looking into what the future may hold.
For all those in search of someone special to share their future, Halloween is the best night of the year to try to figure out who might be waiting just for you. Well that's what the Irish believed anyway.
Here are some simple, romantic, prophetic tests from Ireland's Celtic past and from around the British Isles.....
The Cabbage Test
For those interested in finding out their future partner's wealth then all you need is a good old cabbage patch on this magical night.
Just follow these steps to find out what the future holds .....
- Don a blindfold.
- Run into a field of growing cabbages.
- Search around the ground for a nice big head of cabbage, and yank it out of the ground, roots and all.
- Now, uncover your eyes, and check out those cabbage roots.
- If you extricate the vegetable with roots intact and a good amount of earth still attached, then your beloved will have oodles of money.
But don't get too excited. You still don't know if he'll be cranky or kind.
Head on home with your newly harvested cabbage and cook it up Irish style.
If your cabbage is bitter, then I'm afraid a sour, old, so-and-so may be in your future. But if your cabbage is sweet, then your fate holds a kindhearted, loving mate.
The cabbage test was easy to complete if you lived in rural Ireland many years ago, but I'm afraid we urban dwellers today have little access to cabbage patches. So then, your best bet for predicting love is to move on to the bonfire test.
The Bonfire Test
A Halloween bonfire is touted as a way to help envision a future partner. Bonfires featured significantly in ancient, Celtic celebrations of Halloween or Samhain. Here's what must be done to encourage dreams of your future love.
Simply snip a few strands of your hair, and drop them into the burning embers of a Halloween fire.
The magical flames of your burning hair will encourage vivid dreams of your future spouse. I hope he or she will fulfill all your dreams.
The Apple Peel Test
Apples were also used for telling the future on Halloween night. When I was a little girl in Dublin, most home owners shared apples and nuts with trick or treaters, rather than candy or sweets. In recent years I have come to appreciate how this custom was rooted in age old traditions.
The apple peel love test may have originated in Scotland rather than Ireland, but this trick was practiced throughout the British Isles. A little apple peeling skill is required for this one.
First you must peel an apple all in one go, creating a long strip of peel. Love awaits only for those who can remove the peel with no breakages.
The peel must then be thrown over the shoulder. As it falls the peel may land to reveal the initial of a would-be suitor.
Love is an apple peel - it sounds like the name of a song.
If you're still interested in finding out if your spouse will be bitter or sweet, and don't have time to go pulling cabbages to cook, then never fear.
A hazelnut will reveal your future love's temperament, just as accurately as a trusted cabbage.
Simply pick out the hazelnut you believe represents your future love. Crack the shell and taste. You'll quickly learn if a sweet or bitter nut awaits in your future.
And there's even more romantic news to be uncovered through these powerful nuts.
If you want to know if your future marriage will be full of happiness, then you and your partner must each choose a hazelnut.
Light a match between the two nuts (only do this on a flameproof surface), and watch how your two nuts react, not only to each other, but to the flame of love burning between them.
Remember our forebears had stone hearths for these fiery tricks, so don't do anything dangerous.
If the nuts burn quickly, then alack and alas, the future marriage may not be strong, and may be at great risk of crumbling when life gets tough.
Now if your two nuts do a little dance and move away from each other, then proceed to marriage with caution.
If your hazelnuts hop closer together, moving towards the flame of love, then future happiness is yours.
Believe it or not, these trusted nuts hold even more secrets of the future. Hazelnuts can be used to choose between potential beaus.
In the past, inquisitive young women determined which admirer might be faithful, by choosing three nuts, and naming them after the young men she wished to test. The three nuts were placed upon the bars of the fire grate.
If a nut cracked or jumped, then that lover might be unfaithful. If the nut burned brightly then that beau held a flame for the girl performing the hazelnut trial.
This test could be taken a step further by adding a fourth nut, named after the girl. If her nut and one of the nuts named after a potential suitor blazed together, then love was assured and marriage inevitable.
A Slice Of Brack To Tell Your Fortune
Traditional Irish Halloween celebrations involve serving an Irish cake called brack. This tradition continues to this day.
These raisin breads are baked with hidden treasures in the dough, usually a coin, a piece of cloth, a key, a ring, a thimble or a button.
- Lucky Halloween revelers who discover the coin can look forward to a year of prosperity.
- But I'm afraid your finances look bleak if you find the old piece of cloth.
- Of course, the ring foretells an impending marriage, or a new romance.
- But if you find the thimble you'll be an old maid.
- A button foretells a year of bachelorhood for a male barmbrack eater.
- And a key tells the story of an imminent journey.
A Bowl of Porridge
Now if you don't have time to be baking fancy barmbracks with rings and things inside, do not fear. A simple bowl of porridge will do the trick.
Fuarag (pronounced foo-ur-ag) is a traditional dish of oatmeal mixed with cream. If you're eager to learn if new love is just around the corner for you or one of your friends, just make a big pot of porridge.
Add some cream, a ring and a coin. Dish out the porridge to all those seeking to know if their future holds marriage or wealth. The lucky finder of the ring will be married within the year, while wealth awaits whoever recovers the coin.
And hold your breath if your bowl of creamy gruel reveals both the ring and the coin - a wealthy spouse may soon cross your path.
Remember to eat with caution on Halloween night - all these bits and pieces in traditional foods are a major choking hazard.
Colcannon is a traditional Irish dish served at Halloween.
It's a mix of kale and mashed potatoes, served with melted butter, and once again this simple dish holds the powers of divination.
In the past, unmarried women would take their first and last spoonful of colcannon and put it inside a stocking.
These colcannon stockings were hung from the frame of the front door. The first man to enter the house and pass beneath the fortune telling stocking would become their husband.
Halloween - A Time For Romance
And there you have it - my romantic guide to Halloween festivities. If you know of any more prophetic Halloween traditions concerning love and marriage, please feel free to add your two cents worth in the comment section below. I look forward to hearing new superstitions from all over the world.
Wishing you all happy love matches this Halloween.
Slán agus beannacht,
(Goodbye and blessings)
Mairéad -Irish American Mom
Pronunciation - slawn ah-gus ban-ock-th
Mairéad - rhymes with parade
Here are some more Halloween posts you might enjoy:
- Easy Bat Donut Holes Recipe For Kids
- Stacked Sugar Witch Cookies With Video Tutorial For Halloween
- How To Make Easy Delicious Pumpkin Brownies
- Halloween Chocolate Pumpkin Cupcakes
- Witch's Broomstick Snacks: Easy And Delicious
- Broomstick Witch Snacks For Halloween
- Scary Halloween Food and Dishes
- Barmbrack - A Traditional Fruity Bread From Ireland