(From the Irish name Bairín Breac)
This is a traditional Irish Halloween cake which essentially a sweet bread with fruit through it as well as some other treats.
Shop-bought barnbracks still contain and ring but if you make it at home and add your own treats it’s even more fun. Each member of the family gets a slice and each prize has different meaning.
The rag – your financial future is doubtful
The coin – you will have a prosperous year
The ring – impending romance or continued happiness
The thimble – you’ll never marry
2 1/2 cups chopped dried mixed fruit
1 1/2 cups hot brewed tea
2 1/2 cups flour
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1 1/2 cups sugar
1/4 cup lemon marmalade
1 teaspoon grated orange zest
Soak the dried fruit in the hot tea for 2 hours, then drain and gently squeeze out excess tea.
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C). Grease a 9 inch Bundt pan. Stir together the flour cinnamon, nutmeg, and baking soda; set aside.
Beat the egg, sugar, marmalade, orange zest, and tea-soaked fruit until well combined. Gently fold in the flour until just combined, then pour into the prepared Bundt pan.
Bake in preheated oven for 1 hour or until the top of the cake springs back when lightly pressed. Allow to cool in the pan for 2 hours before removing. Continue to cool to room temperature on a wire rack. Press the objects of choice into the cake through the bottom before serving.
There are many games that are played on Halloween night and snap apple or bobbing for apples is one of them.
An apple is suspended from a string and the children are blindfolded and their arms tied behind their backs. The first child to get a decent bit of the apple gets a prize. Bobbing for apples is when some apples are dropped into a basin of water and the children have to go in head first and try to get a bite.
The apples are associated with love and fertility. It is said that whoever gets the first bite will be first to marry. It was also thought that if the girls put the apple they bit, while bobbing, under their pillow that night, they would dream of their future lover.
Shaving the friar
This old game was particularly popular in County Meath.
A pile of ash was put down in the shape of a cone with a piece of wood sticking out of the top. Then each player takes turns trying to digger the largest amount of ash without the pile collapsing.
All the while competitors chant:
“Shave the poor Friar to make him a liar;
Cut off his beard to make him afeard;
If the Friar will fall, my poor back pays for all!"
Blind-folded cabbage picking
Blind folded local girls would go out into the field and pull up the first cabbage they stumbled upon. If the cabbage had a lot of clay attached to the roots their future lover would have money. If the girl ate the cabbage the nature of their future husband would be revealed, bitter or sweet.
As we all know fairies and goblin collect souls as the trawl the earth on Halloween night….what you didn’t know! The story goes that if you threw dust from under your feet at the fairy they would release any souls they kept captive. However over the years this legend was changed.
Farm animals would be anointed with holy water to keep them safe through the night. If animals showed ill health on Halloween they would be spat at to try to ward off the evil spirits.