Nut games were traditionally played on Halloween in Ireland years ago as a form of divination. The fortune-telling games with nuts, which were of pagan origin, were so popular that Halloween was often referred to as “Nutcrack Night”.
The most popular nut game for girls was played with hazelnuts. You select two hazelnuts, one representing your boyfriend and the other representing yourself. Then you toss the nuts into the fire.
If your boyfriend’s nut cracks or jumps, it means that he is cheating on you. If your boyfriend’s nut burns silently, it shows that he is truly in love with you. If both nuts burn together, it means that you will get married.
One variation of this game involved taking one hazelnut to represent your boyfriend. You throw it into the fire and chant “If you hate me, pop and fly; if you love me, burn and die”.
An alternate chant went like this:
“A hazelnut I throw in the flame,
to this nut I give my sweetheart’s name,
If the nut blazes, so too our passion grows,
For ’tis my nut that so brightly glows.
In County Kerry, Ireland, beans were used in a similar way. The girl would select two beans to represent her lover and herself. The beans were then heated and thrown into a basin of water. If both of the beans sank, then all was well in the relationship and it would lead to marriage. If only one bean sank, then then her lover would never marry her. If both beans remained floating, it indicated a turbulent marriage to come. There was a chant to go along with this:
“Piosam, Poisam, A pair of beans in a dish of water in the middle of the fire and my pair are married.”