Ireland is a land of luck and love.
Thousands of years ago, Ireland’s ancient Celts believed there was a line separating the year’s dark and light halves. Or winter and summer. They called this time of the year Samhain (pronounced SAH-win), or summer’s end. They also believed that during Samhain night, the barrier between the worlds of the living and the dead was thin. Spirits could more easily cross over. It was a time when the dead were thought to be able to visit the living. So October 31 each year, the Celts lit bonfires to help the spirits find their way and left food and drink for them.
In other words, Samhain is the holiday we now know as Halloween. The festival of Halloween and all its traditions originated in ancient Ireland. As time went on, the holiday became more and more Christian. Eventually it became Halloween, where people would dress up in costumes and tell horror stories.
Not all stories from Ireland are horrifying and dark. Some are comic. For example, Ireland is the land small, mischievous leprechauns. They are part of the fairy family, the legends of which date back to 700 A.D., when Celts started telling stories of tiny water-dwellers. They are 2-3 feet tall; in fact, their original name, luchorpan, means “small body.”
They played tricks on humans, the most obvious being that they hid their pot of gold at the end of a rainbow, meaning it’s impossible to find.
Other stories are heartwarming, like those of St, Valentine, the patron saint of love. But no, he is not Irish.
During the third century, Rome was ruled by ruthless emperors. St. Valentine was a priest who lived there. The Roman emperor decreed that single men made better soldiers than those with wives and families, so he banned marriage for young men. Valentine continued to perform marriages for young lovers in secret. When the emperor found out, he had Valentine put to death.
A second version of the legend is that Valentine was imprisoned for helping Christians escape from the Romans. While in prison, he fell in love with the jailer’s daughter and sent her a letter signed, “From your Valentine.”
Today, many people believe St. Valentine is buried in Ireland’s Whitefriar Street Church in Dublin City. Thousands of couples come from all over the world hoping for Valentine’s blessings of a happy life together.
Ireland Activity 1
Name the parts of speech for the words in the following sentences. Skip those marked with an X.
X X X
- During the third century, Rome was ruled by ruthless emperors.
X X X X X X X X
- Thousands of couples come from all over the world hoping for Valentine’s blessings of a happy life together.
X X X X X X
- So October 31 each year, the Celts lit bonfires to help the spirits find their way and left food and drink for them.
X X X X
- A second version of the legend is that Valentine was imprisoned for helping Christians escape from the Romans.
5. They are 2-3 feet tall.