Halloween, like many modern American holidays, is a kind of mashup of different cultural traditional traditions rooted in the autumnal harvest, and some kind of celebration or connection with the spirit world. You see it in Mexico with Dia de los Muertos; and in pre-Christian Ireland, it was Oíche Shamhna ("Shamna" being the genitive form of "Samhain," which is pronounced kind of like "SOW-un," and actually just means "November").
An episode of The Irish Passport podcast takes a close look at the roots of those Gaelic traditions, and the kind of generation loss that happened when it was exported to the United States, and then re-imported back to Ireland. The result is kind of fun-house-mirror reflection of itself—modern Irish imitating a mutated American imitation of older Irish traditions. You'll also get to learn a bit about how the faeryfolk in Ireland, the Aos Sídhe, still play an active role in modern real estate development in the Republic (yes really).
Just below the surface of modern Ireland, a parallel world exists with its roots in pre-Christian belief. Irish fairies aren’t like Tinkerbell—they’re more like a supernatural mafia. So be careful what you say, because as the story goes, they’re probably listening. Tim talks to one of Ireland’s last seanchaí or story-teller historians, who once managed to get a highway diverted to prevent the felling of a fairy bush. We also hear about modern traditions from the streets of Galway as the Celtic New Year Samhain festival is underway.
You can download the mp3, or find the episode on iTunes/Stitcher/Google Play/Spotify/etc.
(Top image: an early turnip-based jack o'lantern, via Irish Fireside on Flickr)
It’s an annual tradition–Sai Mokhtari photographs the New York subway on Halloween. Take a scroll through hundreds of photos from the last few years. Yes there are lots of Suicide Squad characters, but there’s also a living bodega, Billy Mitchell from King Of Kong, Joanne the Scammer, and a woman dressed as the entire Zola […]
This Bob Ross “painted” happy little trees onto their partner’s face all evening. I’ve lived in Alameda, California going on 10 years now and I’m always surprised by what I see on Halloween night — it’s a real circus! Each year, thousands of revelers head to my neighborhood in the Fernside district to trick or […]
Pete Tridish and pals made a hell of a Hallowe'en haunt this year: on their "porch of doom," trick-or-treaters were sent to a Mars colonized by billionaires where they were expected to mine Mars rocks and put them in Amazon Mars boxes at a sweatshop Amazon Mars warehouse; Pete notes that the haunt was partly […]
We live in a disposable era. If you can’t fix a broken item with a wrap of duct tape, there’s a very strong likelihood that its next destination is the trashcan. However, that probably leads to a trigger-finger death sentence for many household items that could be saved with just a bit more ingenuity. Before […]
Right tool for the right job. You probably heard a parent or grandparent say it at least once at some point. And it’s true in so many cases. If you spot a small tear in your living room curtains or near to hem a pair of pants, you can always use the good old fashioned […]
The world is holding its collective breath. As states begin cautiously reopening, no one is sure exactly what to expect. But one thing is clear: most Americans are worried about their bank accounts. By the end of March, the average American household was spending 40 percent less on their credit cards than they were one […]