Traditional Halloween Divination Games from Ireland

Halloween history has always had a spiritual element. In Ireland and other northern European countries, it was believed that the future and past existed in the present during Halloween night. This made Halloween a great time for divination.

Halloween divination games in Ireland were played using simple foodstuff. The usual questions for prophetic answers concerned romance, finances and travel. People always ask these same questions of their fortune tellers in the past and present times.

Using games and chants, there would be bobbing for apples to see who would or who would not be prosperous. Sometimes the apple with a coin in it would be strung up to be bitten into by the players. Whoever found the coin would enjoy prosperity. Some believed that those who found a pretty apple would have good luck with their finances and that those who found a rotten apple would have bad luck.

Hazelnuts were an object used in Irish witchcraft. Hazelnuts were tasted to find out if one's spouse would be sweet or bitter. Another Halloween hazelnut divination game was to light a match between two nuts to determine the happiness of your future marriage. The answer was calculated on how the nuts reacted to the flame and to each other. If the hazelnut burnt quickly, it was assumed that the marriage could crumble under stressful conditions. If the hazelnuts moved away from each other, the spouses were not meant to be with one another.

The fuarag is another divination dish. Fuarag is pronounced foo uh rak. It is made with oatmeal and cream. There is a ring and a coin in the food waiting to be found by those destined for marriage or prosperity. Finding the ring meant marriage and finding the coin meant wealth. This dish and game can be found still in Ireland, Britain and Canada.

The Irish also used cakes for divination in their traditional Halloween celebrations. Barmbrack cakes have different objects placed in them as a way of divining what event would happen to whom in the next year. The different items placed in the cake could be a coin, piece of cloth, key, ring, thimble or button.

The coin meant prosperity. The piece of cloth was a bad omen for your financial situation. The key meant a journey. The ring meant marriage, romantic happiness or a new romance. The thimble meant an unmarried woman and the button foretold bachelorhood. Today the Barmbrack cakes are still sold and enjoyed today in Ireland.

Unlike the modern fortune telling methods that are usually done in a one on one encounter, the traditional Irish games of Halloween divination can be done with a crowd, which makes it more fun. It is easy to add these divination games to your next Halloween celebration party.

author: Kim de Leary

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