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Read about Halloween fire rituals, Scottish Halloween customs and Halloween traditions of Ireland.

Halloween Fire Rituals

In some regions of Scotland and Ireland, Halloween celebrations were started by kindling fire on top of hills and plains by young people, which is known as ‘Halloween Bleeze’, as a part of the holiday ritual. In the past, a circular trench to symbolize sun surrounded these sacred bonfires. Then, youth kindled faggot, made up of heath, broom and dressings of flax, tied it to the end of a pole from the bonfire and carried it on the shoulders to the village, to rekindle old hearths with new ceremonial fire. If the faggot got burnt out in the way, a second one was tied to the pole, before the fire died. Several blazing faggots, being carried through the villages, looked quite beautiful.

The natives of Hebrides used to pour ale into sea, for the marine God called Shony, on Celtic Samhain or Halloween, to make him happy, so that he would send seaweed, which is a good fertilizer, to the shore. The sacred bonfires of Samhain were similar to solar fire festivals of Solstices and Equinoxes, except that they were timed with the lunar calendar and called ‘Samhanagan’. Each household used to compete with the other to have the biggest fire. Later, these traditions moved on to New Year Celebrations, but a traditional Scottish Halloween song called ‘Hogmanay’ still mentions these rituals. The fire rituals of Halloween also include the Nutcracker ritual, predominant in the north of England.

One of the Halloween rituals related to fire is that when the fire dies down, its ashes are used to form a circle and one stone for each member of the household is kept inside this circle, near the circumference. If any stone is displaced or seems broken by next morning, the person to whom it belongs is believed to die within a year. A similar rite in north Wales includes a great bonfire called ‘Coel Coeth’, being built for each family on Halloween. Tthe members of the household throw a white stone marked in their name in the ashes. Next morning, all the stones are searched for and if any stone is missing, then the person who threw that stone is believed to die before next Halloween.