Jun 11, 2012

Irish Bonfire Night

June 23rd is known as bonfire night in Ireland.
It's a tradition carried on from the pagan midsummer festival - which was then moved to become St Johns Eve when the Catholic Church hijacked all the pagan festivals for themselves.

In the past -  people would say prayers, asking for God's blessing upon their crops. They would also take ashes from the fire, and spread them over their land as a blessing for protection for their crops. It was also common to have music, singing, dancing, around the bonfire.

As might be expected, there was plenty of eating and drinking!  In some areas of Connacht  a special dish called “Goody” was made. This was white ‘shop-bread’ which had been soaked in hot milk and flavored with sugar and spices. It was usually made in a large pot that was either placed on the  bonfire or heated on a smaller fire close by. Revelers brought their own spoons and bowls if they wanted to share in the “Goody.”

Some people would  bring home  an ember from the communal fire and place it on the family hearth. Some families also kept ashes from the fire for luck, others because they believed the ashes would ensure a peaceful death to old people who were ailing.

Now it's more of  an excuse for everyone to burn all their rubbish - even though it's illegal.
You shouldn't hear any fireworks - because they are illegal too in Ireland - but there will probably be a few let off anyway . Laws aren't followed too strictly here in Ireland !

Halloween is also a popular night in Ireland for bonfires (October 31st).
In England they have Bonfire Night on November 5th to remember the failed attempt by Catholic Guy Fawkes to blow up the houses of Parliament.

3 comments:

spikslow said...

St. John's night is a wonderful act of mass civil disobedience. The only reason the councils try to stamp out the practice is to preserve their income from running the dumps.

It's a wonderful tradition of spring cleaning in anticipation of harvest time.

It also has a tradition of burning away any bad feelings amongst the community, but I'm afraid you'd have to ask someone older than me for the full lowdown.

webmasterpdx said...

Bonfire night in Athlone where I grew up used to involve the burning of old tyres to cause black smoke to bellow up and increase the size of the fire. It was also common practise to attack other bonfires and chase their people away in a low key rumble (fight)...nobody ever got hurt other than maybe their pride. In my latter teenage years in the 70's we started getting high tech and using sulphur bombs to throw into the opposing fires to burn their eyes and make them easier to defeat :-)
Was a lot of fun. Also included vandalism like stealing people's gates and hiding them in the bushes a few blocks away (so they always got them back).
I never associated anything religious with that night except for June 21 being the longest day of the year.....and June23 being my birthday :-)

Trish Ferry said...

Why tyres?