Whether it’s kids dressed as witches pushing shopping trolleys full of candy or that annoying coworker who is actually named Candy and insists on wearing a ‘sexy witch’ costume to work every October (put em away girl, nobody wants to see your ‘familiar’) it’s easy to see why some people think that Halloween has become overly commercialised or, dare I say it, too ‘Americanised’.
It’s for precisely this reason that this year Ireland will be investing 1.5 million Euros to bring to life the new festival of Puca which will celebrate the origins of Halloween and return it to ancient roots, firmly planted in the Celtic soil of its spiritual homeland of Ireland.
The organisers of the festival, aim to reclaim Ireland’s ownership of Halloween by reminding people that the holiday evolved out of a pagan festival known as Samhain, which traditionally marked the start of winter and conclusion of the harvest season.
To that end, they have worked with historians and archeologists to underscore the point and plan to celebrate an event in Ireland’s Ancient East, which will be built more solidly around the celtic and pagan traditions than more modern plastic Mc-Halloween interpretations found elsewhere.
Make no mistake though, this is not a small scale event for a few ardent pagans. With over a million euros worth of investment, the festival, which will be spread across several locations, is expected to bring in 12 million euros of revenue and attract 100000 visitors. That’s big noise.
One look at the costumes for this event, geared toward more traditional characters will already get fans of ‘folk horror’ eager to attend, formed from primarily natural materials and retaining a deliberately archaic aesthetic the costumes are wonderfully creepy and really help push the ‘feel’ of the festival.
Described as a three night celebration of ‘light”music’ ‘food’ and ‘spectacle’ events will include processions, markets, candlelit retellings of Irish epics and the ritual lighting of a fire near the Hill of Ward.
There will also be a screening of the classic silent movie Haxan with a live score, which if you’ve never seen it, can be a mightily unnerving piece of film with some wonderfully striking imagery.
As always there are some naysayers and the fact that event uses phrases like ‘Meet the original spirits of Halloween’ and playful invitations such as ‘Who knows what will happen on the night – or even who will appear!‘ have ruffled feathers with some religious groups opposed to such blase invitations to spirits and demons.
At least one group is hoping to run a counter event to combat what they refer to as ‘grave evil that once more threatens our land‘ planning to battle the threat with masses, rosaries and the recitation of the inscription on St Patrick’s breastplate. Jesus wept.
Whilst I have to admit that to me that sounds suspiciously like the ritualistic use of charms and incantations against evil, by a group opposed to people celebrating the ritualistic use of charms and incantations against, you know… evil, it’s not for me to judge. If it makes them happy and they aren’t hurting anyone, then each to their own.
To find out more about the Puca festival visit their website here https://www.pucafestival.com/
Happy Halloween everyone!