What Was Halloween Like When You Were 7.

What was Halloween like when you were 7. What was Halloween like when you were 7, well going out in the dark on a cold, frosty evening was a novelty in itself.  Dressing up with old sheets, pretend ghosts, and our Mam and Dads old shirts and dresses, hats too.

None of your expensive gear that  the young ones seem to prefer nowadays. Our parents could let us go out on our streets with our friends and siblings and never worry about our safety.

Halloween was safe to be out when I was a child and a great time for children, one of the most exciting times of the year. The dressing up, comparing what our friends dressed up “as”. Knocking on all the neighbour’s doors and being given apples, oranges, pears, and other fruits and nuts, no sweets in those days.

Then when it was getting a bit late for us to be out in the cold, we’d go home and play games.  Our Dad used to tie an apple with twine and hang from somewhere high up near the ceiling. Dangling it to our level where we attempted to take a bite out of the swinging apple. 

The Ring in the Barmbrack

And another game consisted of a basin of water with a small coin at the bottom. Anyone who was game had to immerse their heads and grip that coin with their lips. The laughter and the craic was mighty.

The ‘Barmbrack’, another tradition of Halloween, though I have no idea where that one came from, was a type of fruit bread. The  superstition was something else.

And unbelievable that we girls believed that the cheap ring my mother mixed in before baking would mean a definite marriage for the lucky one who happened to get the slice with the ring inside.

Before the dressing up we had early dinner which consisted of ‘colcannon’, (a similar vegetable to Kale) and potatoes mashed together with butter and cream. It was scrumptious, can’t remember what meat went with that, but secretly my mother wrapped silver coins in baking paper.

Colcannon With Mashed Potatoes and a Hidden Coin

She hid them in the middle of this dish which created a great amount of excitement. The Barm Brack was desert, in which a cheap wedding ring was wrapped again and hidden, and the female who found it would certainly be married.

I’m happy to say that we enjoyed the same tradition with our children, as they grew up also in Ireland, and have fond memories of those times too.

The witches and other ghooley dress ups and masks were said to be a disguise to keep evil spirits away. Bonfires were also lit, we of Celtic origin believing they would help the dead find their way to the next world.

 Witches Spirits and Bonfires 

The cold and foggy weather added to the spooky atmosphere for sure, although we always felt safe, even with our childish imaginations of witches and ghosts waiting to spirit us away.

It’s also believed that Roman traditions from harvest festivals also became part of Halloween with corn, apples and other food like pumpkin, which might explain the fruit we collected.

Safer Halloween Times

Those were the times, and I wish children could have that lovely freedom today. Instead, Mums and Dads have to be close behind, hovering, and at the same time allowing their children some sense of that freedom.

On the other hand, there are so many props and decorations to be had nowadays to make a most enjoyable party for our kids. My daughter bought and hung silky cobwebs, skeletons, pumpkins, lanterns and all sorts of things around the doors, inside and out.

Decorating the House and Gardens for Halloween

Windows too had spiders and cobwebs. Skeletons dangled from the trees. The kids screamed with delight. Halloween is as memorable for our grandchildren as it was for our daughter. It was also safe enough when she was 7. I baked a  Halloween marble cake with purple, black and orange colours with dripping icing in the same colours.

Halloween has not always been big in Australia where I live, but growing up in Ireland it certainly was.

Did I say Halloween wasn’t popular in Australia? I take it back. One Halloween evening a few short years ago our doorbell began ringing at 7 pm and went on until sometime after 8 pm.

And there were the kids from our neighbourhood all dressed up with painted faces. And so excited at the thought of frightening us. Unfortunately, we didn’t have much in the way of lollies to give them, but they happily accepted a few coins instead.

It was very special, and we made sure every year after to have lots of goodies in when they call. We still enjoy Halloween almost as much as when we were kids ourselves.

And we were delighted to see the little ones dressed up in their ghostly costumes and masks, enjoying themselves, even with some parents hovering in the background.

It was especially nice, for parents to not have to worry about the children for one short evening. It seemed like everyone in the neighbourhood decided to let their kids enjoy a timeless ancient tradition. Halloween has a spiritual side no doubt but it’s also a time for children to get dressed up and enjoy a little fun.

 

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