Pumpkins carved, costumes on, and trick-or-treating commencing. Welcome to the best known, but least understood Celtic festival - Halloween. The gift that the Irish brought to America, and a holiday that we have made our own.
Halloween marks the pagan holiday of Samhain,when Celtic farmers in Ireland celebrated the end of the season's harvest. Even the pumpkins we use today are the offspring of terrifying carved turnips that were used in the 17th Century by Irish farmers.
The candle in the carved out middle also has significance says Nick Rogers, author of Halloween: From Pagan Ritual to Party Night: "The candle inside the turnip used to mean the wandering soul in purgatory, but it also means the wandering 'Jack' who tried to trick the Devil and who was condemned to wander the earth." The ‘Jack’ is the inspiration for modern day Jack-O-Lanterns. Stay safe, beware the banshee and the púca.
Happy Halloween or ‘Samhain’ from your friends at Friends of Sinn Féin USA.