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Irish Trivia

Denver, Colorado
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Irish Trivia

I read an interesting piece of trivia that stated that the tradition of carving pumpkins on Halloween actually began in Ireland. The Irish would carve scary faces in turnips or squash to scare off evil spirits. I know that my children love to carve pumpkins for Halloween and the pumpkin carving industry has become very profitable as well as very artistic!

Co. Kildare
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1. Re: Irish Trivia

I could be wrong here but I don't think the pumpkin carving custom started in Ireland, it seems like a very American thing to me. My husband assures me that nobody in his family or in any of his friends' families ever carved pumpkins. Even 10 years ago you'd find very few carved pumpkins, to me it seems to be a very recent phenomenon. Strangely enough, you would find more people on the continent (for example Germany) who would decorate their porches or corridors with seasonally appropriate things, the Continentals seem to cherish their customs more than the Irish. A lot of the revived customs in Ireland seems to be an import from abroad (oh, I can see myself getting rapped across the knuckles for this...).

dublin, ireland
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2. Re: Irish Trivia

No, she's right actually! It did start here - except obviously we didn't have pumpkins - they were turnips! I remember reading a story about a man who carried one through a bog to ward off the 'will o' the wisp'. Not surprising, thetangal, you probably already know that Halloween is a Celtic tradition..Oiche Samhain.

I just did a google trawl and came up with this link if you want to read more on it - it's interesting stuff!

www.aoh.com/history/archive/samhain.htm

Limerick, Ireland
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3. Re: Irish Trivia

Hi Folks - Samhain was a pagan festival of winter which was appropriated by the Christians who attached the feast of the Holy Souls to it to make it Christian.

The turnip cutting was taken over to the US by the emigrant Irish who apparently found pumpkins more plentiful.

But - have you ever tried to carve a turnip? and then tried to carve a pumpkin? Courtesty of a Superquin pumpkin carving set I can cut a very decent pumpkin in less than an hour. It would take me about 3 days hard labour to cut a very basic turnip.

I rest my case :O)

dublin, ireland
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4. Re: Irish Trivia

Bean - yes i've tried to carve a turnip!!! It was back in the days when you couldn't get a pumpkin here for love nor money - think I was about 14 or so - and you're right - it's pretty impossible!!! A few blisters later I managed to hollow it out and create a face and it looked cool - actually a bit more sinister than a pumpkin. Except that the smell of a rotting turnip is pretty gruesome and as the days went on, I remember lifting the lid only for a swarm of fruit flies to emerge..yuck..

Limerick, Ireland
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5. Re: Irish Trivia

Getting nauseous at the thought, Enic!!

And the great thing about the pumpkins is that you can throw them in the garden and they've biodegraded in the week!!

Co. Kildare
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6. Re: Irish Trivia

Apologies so, folks!

Ireland
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7. Re: Irish Trivia

the whole halloween festival is a celtic festival. The history (I think) is that the celts believes that the dead came back to haunt the land of the living on that night. These dead souls would try and possess the souls of the living; hence to avoid being "possessed" people used to dress up like ghouls to confuse the spirits, and save themselves from possession.

There are loads of traditions about the magic of that night; people used to blow out all light in their houses (again- no-one home, haunting dead soul!) and instead build big bonfires centrally and congregate as a community around them.

One other one I like is if I young girl goes to the waters edge of a river/lake and looks into the water on halloween night she will see the face of her future husband.

Co. Kildare
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8. Re: Irish Trivia

By the way, just to clarify this: I never disputed that Halloween is a Celtic festival, I just never used to see that many carved pumpkins years ago!

N Ireland
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9. Re: Irish Trivia

The following link leads to a web page which recounts how the tradition arose and the legend associated with the Jack O'Lantern story.

http://www.pumpkinnook.com/facts/jack.htm

Orlando, FL
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10. Re: Irish Trivia

Hi everyone, actually several of you are correct...bean, enic, Clauds, Mullmick, etc. During Halloween they did a 1 hr. special on the "History Channel" about the History of Halloween. It did begin 3000 yrs ago in Ireland by the pagans and called shawain(?) not sure of spelling...but it was the celebration of the transition from life to death in relation to the land (harvest) and of those people who had previously passed on. They would try to keep any evil spriits away during the celebration by putting food & sweets at the parameter of the village, hence the custom of "trick or treat" and giving away candy to the little ghosts & goblins that come to your door.

One of the Popes(don't remember which)then tried to convert the pagans to Christianity and so on & so forth.

Apparently the Jack-o-Lantern is the story of a mean, miserly Irishman named Jack who lived in Ireland and when he died he wasn't accepted into Heaven & the devil wouldn't take him either, so his spirit was destined to roam the earth and he had a "turnip" with a candle in it to light his way. When the Irish immigrated to America they brought the custom of Halloween with them, but turnips were not as plentiful...so they found there were lots of pumpkins & they were easier to carve...

It was a very, very interesting show. I had no idea that it all started in Ireland. Always thought it was an "American" thing.

Since seeing this special, I've also been curious if Halloween is celebrated in a large fashion in Ireland??