Halloween has always seemed a very American thing for me and I was quite surprised when I found out that the tradition has originally started from Ireland. As I knew that we were starting to make the Jack-o’lantern, I wanted to find out where that tradition had come from and found a story about Stingy Jack who tricked the Devil and after his death was not allowed to enter neither Heaven nor Hell. So he has been wandering around ever since and using a burning coal in a carved turnip to light his way. To keep him away from the households, people started to make the same kind of lanterns and put them on the doorways during the Samhain, which is a Gaelic festival held after the harvest time to celebrate the end of the autumn and the beginning of the winter. When the Irish started to emigrate to the States, they took this tradition with them, but as there were no turnips in America, they started to use pumpkins instead.
Another new thing that I had never heard before was the Halloween Brack – a sweet bread with raisins and sultanas. It tasted a little bit like a sponge cake but the most interesting part was hidden inside the Brack. In the past, the Brack was used as a fortune teller and you had to be quite careful when eating it because it couldn’t be very safe to bite a coin, a stick, an old cloth, a pea or even a ring but these things were hidden in the Brack and every single one had a special meaning. When you found a pea it meant that you were not going to marry that year, not the worst thing that could happen. Finding a stick was much worse – you would have an unhappy marriage (and a broken tooth sometimes), the cloth would mean bad luck (but probably didn’t break your teeth), the coin would show that you would become rich and the ring, of course, meant that you were going to marry soon. Nowadays only rings are hidden inside the Bracks and you don’t have to worry about the bad luck or unhappy marriage.
The ring was wrapped into a small piece of soft paper but it was quite hidden anyway 🙂
I really enjoyed the decorated houses and the dressed up people here and there. In the city centre, I met a girl with scissors in her head and on our way back home there were lots of dressed up families walking around, probably going to trick and treat. And of course, lots of children came to knock on our door and got their candies. Just one girl said more than “trick and treat”, she asked a tricky question.
And why I am writing this today and why I am surprised that the American, British and Irish children get their candies for just “trick and treat”. It’s because today it’s Mardipäev (St Martin’s Day) in Estonia, and we have also quite a similar tradition here to dress up and go from door to door. It’s an old tradition and is also connected with the end of the harvesting season and the beginning of winter. On that day children dress up as men and go from door to door, sing songs, make jokes, even dance and then they will get their candies (or apples or nuts or some money) and they don’t say “trick or treat”. They tell the story that they are poor Martinman beggars who have had a long journey and who want to come in to warm their toes and fingers which are aching because of cold 🙂
7th annual City of Dublin Winter Solstice Celebration Festival took place on 21st of December. The activities started at DIT Grangegorman Campus in the evening at 6 o’clock, and it was announced that after that there will be a parade and lighting the fire. We have never taken part of the previous Festivals but it seemed interesting to go and see what is going to happen.
Celebrating Solstice is an old pagan tradition and quite familiar also in Estonia and why not to celebrate the coming of the winter. Of course, we both don’t like it too much but maybe it’s a good way to get a better and milder winter 🙂 The good news which is worth to celebrate is that the days are going to be longer again and we are slowly going to move towards spring again.
We didn’t manage to go so early, so we missed a lot – for example making the Solstice Lanterns, pleading the Solstice Wreaths, making the wishes for throwing them into the fire and dancing Irish Dances, which we saw a little bit and we were also not so well prepared, so we didn’t have any lanterns, decorations or costumes either.
We marched with the colourful and noisy crowd with different drums and other jingling things to the Smithfield Square and took part of the Solstice fire Ceremony.
Despite haven’t prepared our papers with wishes we didn’t let this moment pass without making any, so we had to be creative. I found a napkin from my bag, so I pulled it into two halves and we both whispered our wish into the napkin, make a knot and send it away with the fire. Sean was a bit surprised because that creativity came from my side but a woman from this Solstice team heard me explaining it and said that it’s just the right way how these things will work. Of course, they are, I am from Estonia, I know how to talk to Nature, especially with Fire 🙂 Now our wishes are sent to the place where they are going to come true and they definitely will, I know it.
The astonishing 3D projections on Trinity College facade. I was standing there stunned and got it all on video. I think it was the best part of the New Year Celebrations in the city.
The second best was the procession through the streets, even the rain that started to fall quite heavily didn’t ruin it at all. All these colourful costumes and vehicles that passed me made me want to see the St Patrick’s Day Procession. Yes, I know, that one day I will see that too, but just don’t want to wait too long for that.
And the new year 2015 came to us at home where we enjoyed our New Year Dinner and watched The 100 Best musicals on TV. And as we both love musicals it was the best way to celebrate the New Year, the first one that we have really celebrated together.
The real Christmas pudding is baked weeks before Christmas and for my surprise, before Christmas, it is baked again. For me, the name Christmas Pudding associated only with old British children’s books and I had never even seen it, nevertheless, I had an idea how it was cooked. So I just knew that one of all these puddings was made especially for me. And we ate it up in a way as it was eaten and liked in my boyfriend’s childhood – fried with butter and served with whipped cream. And I have to say, that it tasted good, it tasted a bit like a lot of warm gingerbread but not as a crispy gingerbread, but the one which is soaked in a Christmas spiced juice.