So, you fancy coming to Ireland in October? And why not, when the reds and golds of autumn look at their very best against the great green expanse that is the Emerald Isle.

Of course, you probably have an idea of what you want to get up to. Shopping in Belfast, a trip to the Titanic museum, a unique glimpse of Ireland and its history on Legends of the North tours; all worthy of being on your itinerary.

But why stop there?

If you’re paying us a visit in October anyway, why not put a Halloween twist on the trip? After all, Ireland is a land of magic and the home of Halloween. Oh? You thought it was the Americans? That the holiday belonged to them?

Well, in that case, read on. We best tell you all about the holiday and its homeland.

The history of Halloween…

Before All Hallows’ Eve became Halloween, before begging for sweets dressed as a ballerina or pirate was a thing, there was the pagan festival of Samhain. (‘Samhain’ meaning ‘November’ in Irish – source).

The festival was a festival of fire that marked the end of the harvest season and the start of a long winter ahead. Being the last day of the pagan year, it was also a magical night where the veil between the world of the dead and the world of the living was at its thinnest, allowing spirits (bad and good) to wander freely between the two.

With the merging of cultures between the Christian Roman Empire and its pagan territories, the 1st November was declared by the Pope to be All Saints Day or All Hallows Day. The night before (previously when Samhain was celebrated) was known as Hallows’ Eve and turned into the Halloween we know and love now.

The ghosts, ghouls and superstitions, as well as the concept of a blurred line between the living and the dead,  has not changed much since Samhain, but the holiday itself has evolved over the centuries to encompass an all-new set of traditions and associations. You can read more about how some of our favourite Halloween traditions and games came about here and here.

From protecting ourselves from puca (evil fairies), using Jack-o-Lanterns to ward off evil spirits, and dressing up to disguise ourselves from wandering spirits, to bobbing for apples and trying to tell the future with their peels – there’s a lot more involved with Halloween than knocking at doors for food.

Have a very Irish Halloween…

As you’re visiting Ireland anyway this October, to enjoy one of our wonderful tours and taste a bit of authentic Irish culture, why not stop by Derry and join in with Europe’s largest Halloween celebration too? See more details of the events,  here.