Halloween food games that were traditionally played during the festival of Samhain, by the Irish people. On Halloween, many of these games were used to foretell the future.
Three Luggies (or Three Bowls) is a popular Halloween game that was played in Ireland and Scotland on the festival of Samhain. People would take three bowls and lay them out on a table. One was filled with clean water, one was filled with dirty water and the last was left empty. A person was blindfolded and the bowls were rearranged. Then the person was told to spin around three times and then dip the fingers of their left hand into one of the bowls.
If you dip your fingers in the clean water, it means you will marry a boy or girl who is young and pure of heart. If you dip your fingers in the dirty water, you will marry a old man or woman. If you choose the empty bowl, it means you will never marry.
Sometimes two more bowls were added, one filled with red water and the other with blue water. If you dip your fingers in the red bowl, it means you will have good fortune. Dipping our fingers in the blue bowl foretells a long voyage.
In this game, four plates were arranged on a table. One plate had a ring placed on it, one was filled with water, one with clay and another with salt (or straw). The person playing the game was blindfolded and led into the room. They were asked to put their hand on one of the plates.
If they chose the plate with the ring, it meant that they would marry within the year. If they put their hand on the plate with water, it meant they would go on a long journey. Clay meant that either they or someone they knew would die within the year. Salt meant that they would be rich.
Sometimes a fifth plate was added, containing a bean or a pea. If you picked this, it meant that you would be poor.
The most common fortune-telling game in Ireland was the Barmbrack (“Bairin Breac”). It was a fruit cake made with raisins and other dried fruits. Various objects were baked into the cake: a ring, a coin, a piece of cloth, a stick, a key and a pea (or a thimble or button). The cake was then sliced up and each person got a piece.
If your piece of cake contained a ring, it meant you would be married within the year. The coin meant you would be rich. The cloth meant you would have bad luck and lose your money. The stick meant you would have an unhappy and abusive relationship. The key meant you would go on a long journey. The pea (or thimble or button) indicated that you would never marry and would die alone.
Sometimes, a medallion of the Virgin Mary would be added to the brack. If you recieved this in your piece of brack, it meant that you would become a priest or a nun.
Today, in Ireland, almost every family buys a Barmbrack for Halloween and each one has a ring inside.
This game was also played with Colcannon (a traditional Irish dish made from mashed potato, mashed cabbage, chopped onions and pepper) and with Fuarag (another traditional Irish dish made from oatmeal and cream).
On Halloween night, young girls would put on a blindfold and go out into the fields. They would pull up the first cabbage they found and then return home to inspect it at the fireside. The way the cabbage looked would indicate what their future boyfriend or husband would look like. If the cabbage was big or little, that is what he would be. If the roots of the cabbage were straight, he would be handsome. If they were crooked, he would be ugly. If the cabbage had a lot of clay attached to the roots, it meant that he would be a rich man. Then the girls ate the cabbage. The taste would indicate the temperment of their future husband – either bitter or sweet. If a girl pulled a rotten cabbage, everyone would laugh at her.
Finally, the girls would hang their cabbages, one after another, over the door of the house. They kept careful watch over which men entered the house that night and in what order. The girl whose cabbage was first would marry the first man to walk in. The girl whose cabbage was second, would marry the second man, and so on.
A Dumb Supper was a Halloween ritual that involved having a meal to which the dead were invited. Doors and windows were left unlocked to let the souls of the dead into the house. A place at the table was set for each living and each dead family member. Their chairs were left vacant so that their ghosts could join the living at the table. The food was cooked and then served by candlelight. A bell was rung to mark the beginning and end of the meal. The meal was eaten in total silence, as people listened carefully for a message from the dead. Sometimes, people would write messages on pieces of paper and leave them on the vacant chairs to communicate with the dead.