Halloween in Beechtree
For many of us Halloween holds fond memories of playing dress up, families gathering together, building bonfires, playing the traditional game of “apple bobbing”, telling scary stories and playing trick or treat while visiting neighbours.
So many of our traditions and rituals are built into this celebration and it’s nice to look at those associated with Halloween. It is true that remembering our own traditions can boost well-being and bring a sense of fun to a person’s life.
History of Halloween – Where did it come from?
The origins of Halloween has links with our own Celtic festival of Samhain. The Celts who lived 2 centuries ago celebrated their new year on November 1st. This day marked the end of summer and harvest and the beginning of winter and darkness. Celts believed that on the night before the new year the veil between the worlds of the living and the dead becomes thin and is therefore easier to cross over.
Dressing up as Ghosts
On this day, when it was believed that ghosts came back to the earthly world, people thought that they would encounter ghosts if they left their homes. To avoid being recognized by these ghosts, people would wear masks when they left their homes after dark so that the ghosts would mistake them for fellow spirits. This is where the tradition of dressing up as something ghostly or scary comes from.
The more recent pumpkin carving tradition comes from our own tradition of carving a turnip in the shape of a ghost or menacing face and leaving it at our door to ward off the visiting ghosts. Pumpkins are a lot easier to carve and the switch to pumpkins is from the popularity of the Halloween celebration in America.
The Irish have always been associated with storytelling and fortune telling. The Barnbrack is traditionally made at Halloween with something of significance to be found inside it. A ring – foretelling marriage, a Coin – signifying wealth, a small piece of rag – meaning poverty and a Thimble – meaning being an old maid, a button – signifying staying a bachelor.
Colcannon is an Irish dish that is rich in tradition and history. It’s traditionally made at Halloween and some families would leave out a plate of colcannon, with a lump of butter in the centre for the fairies and the ghosts. There is even a traditional Irish song that was written long ago about colcannon that you can sing while preparing it!
Well did you ever make colcannon,
With lovely pickled cream
With the greens & scallions mingled
Like a pitcher in a dream
Did you ever make a hole on top
To hold the meltin’ flake
Or the creamy flavoured butter
That our mother’s used to make
Oh, you did, yes you did!
So did he and so did I,
And the more I think about it
Sure, the more I want to cry.
God be with the happy times
When trouble we had not,
And our mothers made Colcannon
In the little three-legged pot.
(The little pot was known as a Bastable oven, which looked a little like a cauldron with a lid that was put over a fire and used as an oven to bake bread and other dishes)
Trick or Treat
The tradition of Trick or Treating comes from “Souling” – traditionally children were “soulers” who were sent door to door dressed as the dead and begging for treats on behalf of the death, so as to seek favour from the dead. The term trick or treat came about in the early 1920s and came from America as the Halloween celebration was so popular over there.
Why is it important to celebrate Halloween in Beechtree
Looking at some of our traditions that have come from celebrating Halloween it is so important to have our own celebrations at Beechtree. Our residents will have their own memories of how they used to celebrate as a child and also some of them being the parent or grandparent of children celebrating in more recent years. Having rituals and keeping traditions alive is one of the many things that help with establishing community, communication and a sense of well being. But most importantly Halloween brings joy and fun at a time of year when winter is looming. So knock the cobwebs off the broom-sticks and join in the celebrations.
All families and friends are welcome to join us for our own Halloween party on Wednesday 24th October from 1.30pm. For further info Contact us