Kids’ Craic :  Halloween Time!

Kids’ Craic :  Halloween Time!
by Dottie Wenger

Did you know… Although many people think of Halloween as an American holiday, its beginnings go back to Ireland, long before the colonists first arrived in America!  Long ago, the Catholic Church designated November first as “All Hallows (Saints) Day” in commemoration for saints that didn’t have a specific day of their own for remembrance. 

The night before was known as “All Hallow’s Eve”.  The original spelling of this holiday is Hallowe’en, which is the contraction of the three words.

The origins of the jack-o-lantern:  There is an Irish fable about a wicked blacksmith named Jack, who wandered the Earth carrying a candle carried in a turnip which he had carved out.  This earned him the name Jack-of-the-Lantern, or Jack-o-Lantern. 

The Irish would carve turnips and place them in their windows to keep wicked “Jack” away on Halloween night.  When the Irish immigrated to the United States, they substituted pumpkins – since they were more available – to continue this Halloween tradition. 

Halloween Traditions in Ireland:
Irish children dress in costume on Halloween night and go from door to door like kids do in America.  This tradition goes back to early Ireland, when people dressed in disguise on Halloween night believing this prevented them from being carried off by evil spirits. 

Many Irish families have feasts on Halloween!  A traditional dish often enjoyed on Halloween is Colcannon, made with boiled potatoes, kale or cabbage, and onions.  Another is Barnbrack:  this is similar to fruitcake.  Sometimes items are baked into the cake:  a bit of a rag, a coin and a ring.  If you end up with the rag, you’ll most likely be poor; if you get the coin, you’ll be wealthy, and the ring means you can expect romance and happiness. 

A traditional drink on Halloween is “Lambswool”, which usually is made up of roasted, crushed apples that have been added to milk or cider.  A popular game for kids in Ireland to play on Halloween is “Snap Apple,” similar to bobbing for apples; an apple is suspended from a string and the kids are blindfolded with their hands behind their backs.  The first to take a big bite out of the apple wins. 

Gaelic Words of the month:

English:                      Gaelic:

Pumpkin                      puimcin (pron. pimkeen)

Cat                              cat  (same pronunciation)

Candy                         milseain (pron.  milshawn)

Ghost                          taibhse (pron. tiv-shuh)

Vampire                      vampir  (pron. vampeer)


Q:  What is the top-selling Halloween candy in Ohio?

 A:  Charms Blow-Pops

Q:  What was the first wrapped penny candy in America?

A:  Tootsie Rolls

Check this out: This cute, three-minute video is called “Irish Kids Explain an Irish Halloween”

Literature Highlight:  How to Catch a Monster – This picture book was written by Adam Wallace & Andy Elkerton, best-selling author and illustrator duo who brought us How to Catch a Leprechaun.  This story is about a boy “ninja” who goes on a mission to confront a monster.

*Dottie has 32 years experience teaching at the kindergarten and second grade levels, and  now handles marketing and promotions for Yorktown Service Plaza in Parma Heights.  In her spare time, Dottie is a baker extraordinaire and also enjoys participating in 5k events in order to offset collateral damage from this hobby.   She is married to John and has two sons, Daniel and Andrew Fowler, the latter of whom is very active in the Cleveland pipe band community.

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