Signs of Summer’s End appear all about the grounds of the Irish Cultural Centre of New England. Hay bales, pumpkins, scarecrows, deep burgundy mums and crones on broomsticks remind us that the time for celebrating the Old Celtic New Year’s Eve known as Samhain, Oíche Shamhna, or All Hallow’s Eve is just around the corner. In Ireland, November 1st marks the end of the harvest. The history and lore of Ireland’s ancient days are full of special gatherings, activities and bonfires that families, farmers and villagers would hold on October 31st to acknowledge the turning of the season from Summer’s lighter half of the year to Winter’s darker half.
We all need time to prepare for winter. For some, the ritual is a rigorous fall cleaning around the house; for others it’s baking with or preserving food grown in summer’s gardens to stock the winter pantry; and, for still others, it’s burning leaves to clear the yard before snowfall. At the ICC, welcoming Winter is about opening up the thatched roof cottage, lighting a fire and gathering visitors in a circle for stories about the Irish roots of what is a popular American holiday, Halloween.
Fun activities will be especially geared to children. There will be bobbing for apples, parading in costume, trick-or-treating, carving jack-o-lanterns, catching falling leaves and face-painting. Sources in the Irish Cultural Centre Library collection note that each of these American Halloween pastimes has roots in Gaelic Samhain lore and tradition. For example, bobbing or dunking for apples was a child’s game for predicting who would be the first to marry; parading in costume was meant to trick souls from the Otherworld into thinking that the humans were spirits and not to be bothered; catching a falling leaf before it touched the ground meant good luck and health through winter. Learn other lore at the ICC Cottage from storytellers and musicians who will tell the stories of the puka, faeries, crones and other mischievous Irish beings of Halloween.
Join in the family fun and costume prizes of Halloween at the Cottage on Sunday, October 28th at 3 p.m. at the Irish Cultural Centre of New England, 200 New Boston Drive, Canton, MA 02021. There is an admission fee of $5 per person, $20 maximum per family; children under 3 are admitted for free. Come in costume or without ready to enjoy the bounty of the Harvest, the sense of renewal that comes with each passing season and the chance to get in touch with your Irish roots