Pictures: A spooky Halloween for children and adults alike across Cork

Pictures: A spooky Halloween for children and adults alike across Cork

St Patrick's National School Infant classes at Gardiner's Hill, Cork.

Halloween is not all about cauldrons, broomsticks, witches, and pumpkins.

On the island of Ireland, it is a tradition steeped in ghost turnips, pucas, and fortune-telling, and a global pandemic is not going to change that.

The ancient festival is going digital this year and is laying claim to Ireland being the birthplace of Halloween.

The three biggest Halloween festivals on the island - Derry Halloween, the Puca Festival and Bram Stoker Festival - cannot go ahead as planned due to Covid-19 public health restrictions.

Instead they have all moved online this weekend to bring supernatural surprises to people in the safety of their homes.

Niamh Lunny, creative producer of the Puca Festival, said they were disappointed not to be able to run the arts and folklore festival, which is led by the shapeshifting spirit of the Puca - the Irish word for ghost.

Dawid, Oscar and Mason in Halloween costumes in the school yard at St Patrick's National School Infant classes at Gardiner's Hill, Cork.
Dawid, Oscar and Mason in Halloween costumes in the school yard at St Patrick's National School Infant classes at Gardiner's Hill, Cork.

It was due to take place in three venues in Co Meath and Co Louth.

Organisers have also developed a content-driven social media campaign to tell the story of Halloween's origins in Irish and Celtic traditions.

As people cannot gather and celebrate as normal, Failte Ireland, the organiser of the festival, is also calling on every household to light a lantern in their home on Halloween night.

Derry Halloween will have spooky tales for Little Horrors to watch, Samhain Sessions for music lovers, and online tutorials in everything from broomstick-making to cocktail-shaking.

In Dublin, home to the Bram Stoker event, this year's celebration of Stoker and his famous creation Dracula will focus on interactive and fun experiences for all ages online.

Senior infant pupils Ava, Danny, Emily, Ariana and Conor in Halloween costumes in the school yard.
Senior infant pupils Ava, Danny, Emily, Ariana and Conor in Halloween costumes in the school yard.

The National Museum of Ireland's keeper of the Irish Folklife Division Clodagh Doyle said Halloween began as the ancient Irish festival of Samhain.

Its roots can be traced back more than 2,500 years ago to the Celts.

Samhain, or summer's end, was a celebration of fire and feasting that marked the end of the season of light and the beginning of the dark days of winter.

It was regarded as the time where spirits of the dead would be in limbo and might move between the worlds of the living and the dead.

Senior infant pupils Aodhan and Scott in the school garden.
Senior infant pupils Aodhan and Scott in the school garden.

Participants worshipped the dead, wearing costumes and masks to disguise themselves as a way of warding off evil spirits.

The modern practice of dressing up at Halloween is rooted in these pagan and Celtic customs, as is the tradition of lighting bonfires, which began with clans and communities gathering to light huge ceremonial Samhain fires.

Long before people were carving pumpkins, people in Ireland were carving ghoulish faces into turnips and potatoes to create the original jack-o'-lanterns.

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