Halloween then and now in Northern Ireland

 Many of my american friends struggle to believe that here in Ireland, before pumpkins were imported and widely available, we carved out turnips as lanterns for halloween!

I thought I would  share a few more of the differences between then and now

Then

Carving Hacking out the middle of a large turnip with a metal spoon, similar to hollowing out a brick. Often blisters and bent metal spoons were involved.

Now

Spooning out a pumpkin and carving features is now a doddle in comparison! SO much easier!

Then

No fancy, shop bought dressing up clothes – it usually involved an old white sheet for a ghost, or my mums old teaching gown as a cape for a witch.

Now

These days all costumes seem to be bought. Increasingly here they are grim, gory and grisley. Fortunately my son is still at the stage where he wants to be a bat or spider or at the most a skeleton.

My daughters have gone past the cute stage, and just want to wear black, black and more black.

Then

Trick or treating – a few neighbours doors at most, and if you got a few sweets and some monkey nuts in their shells you were lucky

Now

 

Trick or Treating is now big business – lots of kids in our area go around the doors – and get a TONNE of sweets, and sometimes coins.

Then

Fireworks were banned, for security reasons, so a few sparklers in the back garden was the height of it. There were few public firework displays

Now

Large firework displays are the norm, and quite a few local residents have their own mini-fireworks show. Sparklers are now viewed as a bit tame! But here is a photo of my kids with them anyway (this photo became the family christmas card last year)

Then

Apple tart and toffee apples were a definite – and the tart would contain coins wrapped in wax paper (for wealth), ring (for love/marriage) and a button (can’t remember what that was for!)

Now

Anything sweet goes!

Then

Traditional games such as ducking/bobbing for apples

Now

Usually so long spent getting ready for trick or treating, and then trick or treating, and then counting up your stash, and eating too much, that there isn’t much interest in playing games!

Then

Collecting conkers (horse chestnuts) and playing with them in the school playground (to create a “champion” conker it often involved special treatments including ovens, freezers, vinegar and hot presseses!)

Now

Conker competitions in school are banned for Health and Safety reasons! – enough said!

Our alternative

While our kids go trick or treating, we try not to focus on the darker aspects of Halloween, and for the last few years our church has held a Fall Fest celebration – with a non-scary party for primary school and pre-school. There is craft, bouncy castles, petting animals, food, puppet show, fancy dress competition…….and all for free.

It has become a highlight of the year, and my son can’t wait for this year’s event.

So, how has your Halloween changed over the years? Please do share.

I’ll post some pictures of this year’s festivities in the next few days.

I’m joining in with JDaniel4’s Mom Blog (who I met in person at SITS Atlanta!) so check out her blog for lots more traditions, recipes and crafts.

3 thoughts on “Halloween then and now in Northern Ireland”

  1. Southern Lady

    That was very interesting. Here kids don’t trick-or-treat as much as we used to. Most churches have a fall celebration and do something called trunk-or-treat in the church parking lot. The kids still dress up but they go from car to car and get candy. This is much easier since we live in a rural area and trick or treating from house to house would require a lot of driving. Carla

  2. When I was a youngster we dressed much the same as you described in homemade costume. My children did too for the most part with one or two bought ones through the years. We lived in rural areas so our trick or treating was done in cars and mostly involved dropping in on neighbors or relatives and the treats were homemade. For one or two years we lived in the small town and knocked on doors on our street. Still we knew everyone whose home we visited.
    The Church alternative has evolved here as well and our grands have gone to that. We don’t have many here at our door as a result. I still love to see the little ones and try to guess what they are supposed to be.
    Mama Bear

  3. Can’t wait to see pics of the kids in their customs or maybe just Sam? Not sure if teens there dress up
    It is so interesting to read about the differences in our cultures
    Yet we are all really alike in one way or another
    Miss you and am counting down the days !

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