Celebrating Ireland as the birthplace of Halloween, Púca events normally include an impressive re-enactment of the symbolic lighting of the Samhain fire, live music and performance, amazing light installations and more. This year, however, the celebrations will be virtual, with a broadcast of the lighting of the Samhain fires due to take place on 31 October.
Lit up pumpkins with ghoulish faces is another much-loved aspect of Halloween. The practice of carving them began in Ireland, where turnips and large potatoes served as the original Jack-o-lanterns.
In fact, the name of the Halloween decoration comes from an Irish folktale about a man named Stingy Jack who played a trick on the Devil. As a punishment for his trickery, the Devil doomed Jack to wander eternity with only a burning ember from the everlasting fires of Hell inside a turnip to light his way.
Irish immigrants eventually brought the tradition to America, home of the pumpkin, and the winter squash has now become integral to the Halloween festivities.
Trick or treating is another Halloween tradition originating in Ireland, in this case with children and the poor going from door to door to ask for food, kindling or money. They sang songs or offered prayers for the soul of the dead in return for food, usually a soul cake which was a flattened bread that contained fruit. This tradition was known as ‘souling’.
The custom of dressing in costumes and making house visits to request small presents of sweets, fruit and money is alive and well in Ireland today, and in many other countries around the world.