People in skeleton costumes in the Derry Londonderry Halloween parade

Ireland: Home of Halloween

Posted by Speakeasy News > Thursday 27 October 2022 > Celebrate

Although these days people tend to think of Halloween as an American holiday, its origins are Celtic (brought to the U.S. by Irish and Scottish immigrants). Ireland wants to make sure that people know about its Celtic roots, and these videos and recipes are a great way to have your pupils discuss Halloween from a slightly different angle.

This video can be used even with beginner students as there is only fairly simple text, no listening comprehension. Beginners can simply be asked to pick out elements they recognise from the celebration, in the images and/or the text. Slightly more advanced pupils can try to pick out the comparisons made showing the modern traditions and the older inspirations (embers from bonfires carried in hollow turnips as the original Jack o' lanterns, soul cakes given to children or the poor as the inspiration for trick or treating, Samhain /ˈsaʊɪn/, the original festival name.)

Samhain marked the beginning of winter and the new year, and as in many cultures new year's celebrations are associated with fortune telling or foreseeing the future.  This video has more on barmbrack, a Halloween cake with charms hidden in it that are supposed to foretell the future. Again there's no audio to understand.

If you fancy making barmbrack, here's the recipe. Soul cakes are really simple to make, possibly even at school, or to use as a simple language activity on instructions.

Derry Londonderry in Northern Ireland has developed Europe's biggest Halloween celebration. This rhyming video has perfect animated visuals to introduce Halloween vocabulary like ghost, witch, skeleton, bat, vampire and Jack o' lantern.

Ireland, and specifically Dublin, was also home to Bram Stoker (1847-1912), who wrote Dracula. The spooky vampire story is celebrated in a festival that coincides with Halloween. This short video giving the basics is narrated by Stoker's great-grandnephew.