Parshells, small crosses, are traditionally made on Halloween and hung above the front door on the inside of the house.

It is believed that this small cross, woven from straw and sticks, will protect you and your family from ill luck, sickness, and from evil spirits for a year, until the next Halloween.

Next year, when you put the new cross above the front door, you can move the older one somewhere else in the house.

Often the crosses were used in the barn to protect the livestock.

How to make the Halloween cross

What you'll need:

  1. Two sticks. About seven inches long.
  2. Tape or string to tie the sticks.
  3. Straw or similar plant material. Rafia works well.


  1. Fasten the two sticks together at right angles. They should form the shape of a cross.
  2. Attach strands of straw at the center of the cross.
  3. Moving clockwise, weave the straw over one stick and under the next, going around the cross. Stop before you get to the ends of the sticks- a few inches of the stick should be exposed.

A friend of the archive reminded us of the Parshell Cross this week. Was this custom known in your part of the country? #Halloween2017

— National Folklore Collection UCD (@bealoideasucd) October 27, 2017

Helpful ancient customs to ward off the evil that you might need to use over the Halloween period:


Any children in the house should be sprinkled with holy water. In ancient times, a dead ember would also be placed in their crib.

If you don’t want to be stolen away by the fairies, you should carry a black-handled knife at all times. Alternatively, you should have a steel needle stuck in your coat collar or sleeve.

Wild fruit

Never ever eat wild fruit, such as blackberries, on Halloween, or anytime afterward, as it is believed that the devil spirit Púca spat on it.

If you are throwing water out into the yard always shout seachain (beware, in Irish) or chughaibh (water towards you). This is to warn any spirits or fairies who might be nearby so the water does not hit them. If you annoy them, they could bring their wrath upon you.


Before you go to bed at night, place a small portion of dinner outside the house for the fairy folk. Your hospitality will be noted and perhaps they will stay away this Halloween.

* Originally published in 2010, updated in Oct 2023.