Fact 1) Samhain is the time of year when magic is most potent
Fact 2) Samhain is the origin of Halloween. Early Celtic Catholics, unable to stop people from observing Samhain, Christianized it as All Hallows Eve (Oct 31) & the Feast of all Souls (Nov 1 st)
Fact 3) in Ireland, people have been observing Samhain for thousands of years
Fact 4) Samhain begins on the evening of the full moon nearest to October 31 and ends on the sunset of the following day
Fact 5) Samhain is the time of the year when the walls that separate the worlds are most thin, and spirits can pass through into our world
Fact 6) Samhain is the first day of the Celtic Year
Fact 7) Samhain is one of Celtic four Fire Festivals that are celebrated at the height of Autumn, Winter, Spring, and Summer
Fact On Samhain Night, spirits of the dead walk the Earth before traveling to the west of Ireland and out over the ocean to the land of the dead
Fact 9) Traditionally, people would put out offerings and lights for the spirits on their journey. If they didn’t, the spirits would play tricks on them. This is the origin of trick or treating.
Fact 10) An old Irish belief is if you sit on the wall of a cemetery at midnight on Samhain Night the you’ll see the souls of those who will die in the coming year pass by
Fact 11) In Ancient Ireland, the High King would hold a feast at the hill of Tlachtga in royal Meath on Samhain Night and every action that people made there would shape the events of the coming year
Fact 12) In traditional Irish folk beliefs, Samhain Night was a time for prophecy and people would use Barm Brack bread foretelling a person’s fortune in the coming year
Fact 13) Samhain, as Cailtlin found out, is pronounced Sahhwhen not Sam Hain
Barm Brack is a traditional Irish bread with fruit in it. On Samhain people would bake a thimble, a coin, a ring and a scrap of cloth into the bread to foretell the events of the coming year. If you found a thimble in your piece, it meant that you would remain unmarried, a coin meant good fortune was coming to you, a ring meant marriage and a scrap of cloth meant you would be hard up for money.
Recipe for Barm Brack:
2 cups (8oz) flour
pinch of salt
1/4 tsp allspice
1/4 tsp nutmeg
1/2 tsp cinnamon
4 Tbsp(2 oz) butter
1 tsp (1/2 oz) live yeast
2Tbs (1 oz) sugar
1 1/4 cup (1/2 pint) milk- warmed
2 eggs, well beaten
1 cup (8oz) golden raisins
1 cup (8oz) currants
1/2 cup (4oz) mixed dried fruit
a thimble, a coin, a ring & a scrap of cloth
Sieve together the flour, salt, cinnamon, allspice & nutmeg. Cream in butter. In a separate bowl, mix 1 tsp of sugar with yeast. Gently stir in the warmed milk. Beat the eggs and add to the yeast/milk mixture, tempering first. Save out a little egg white for glazing the bread later on. Make a well in the flour mixture and add in the in the yeast mixture & stir for about ten minutes with a wooden spoon. Fold in the raisins, currents & dried fruit. Separately wrap a clean thimble, coin, ring & scrap of cloth in grease proof, baking quality parchment paper, and mix in by hand. Place in a warm bowl, cover with damp cloth and place some warm (like on top of the refrigerator) & allow to rise for an hour or until the dough has doubled in size. Knead lightly & turn into a buttered, floured 8″ cake pan. Allow another 30 minutes & glaze with reserved eggwhite. Bake in over preheated to 400° F, 200° C or gas mark 6, for 45 minutes. Brush with 1 Tbs sugar dissolved in 2 tbs boiling water & return to the oven for 3 minutes. Turn out & cool on a wire cooling rack. Serve thickly sliced with butter.
tip- for extra moist raisins, currents and dried fruit place in microwaveable bowl, with just enough water to cover. Microwave on high for about 30 seconds or until plump. Pour off liquid and add to any recipe!
Samhain shona dhuit! Happy Samhain to you!