What You Need to Know About Halloween’s Irish Roots

Op-Ed: Halloween’s Celtic roots are a lot spookier than witches and candy bars.

Halloween is a few weeks away, and so far, most people have spent as much time watching TV specials and reading about witches and ghosts as they have spent at the door listening to local spooks and ghouls.

But if you’ve spent a few minutes learning about these dark, fun-filled people from Ireland, Scotland, Wales and beyond—you might be surprised by how much of their culture and customs might make for a spookier Halloween celebration than watching your favorite scare-tacle movies.

Here are a few things you need to know about Halloween’s Irish roots:

1. It starts early

According to ancient tradition, the very first Halloween, or Samhain, is generally considered to have begun as a festival to honor the dark time of year and end with the feast of Samhain (known by some tribes as Samhain/Halloween).

From the time of Old Ireland to the present day, Samhain has been a time to celebrate the end of Autumn and the beginning of winter, the longest night of the year and believed to be the season when you were most likely to catch an evil spirit in your home. The night is filled with all kinds of spirits (both real and imagined) and it is believed that a bad spirit will visit people during the night to spread its mischief.

2. It’s all about the candy

In the early 1800s, the Irish invented the candy bar.

Today, almost every city seems to have its own sugar-based flavor like coffee, apple pie, and pumpkin spice. But in Ireland, the candy bar remains the most popular Halloween tradition.

The idea of candy canes originated in Ireland, where they are known as the “gormen,” or “hanging-bells,” after the small bells hanging from the end of the cane. The idea for them came from the early Irish monks, who loved the sound of bells of all kinds. But as they ate their “hanging-bell” ciders, they discovered the taste of a sweet, creamy fruit inside.

Ireland is believed to have invented the traditional

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