Barmbrack, an Irish Halloween tradition


I love to dig deeply into holiday and secular traditions. Learning new things is what give life its spice. Speaking of spice I ran across a fantastic Halloween oddity that I just

had to share. Barmbrack is a yeast bread made with dried fruit that has been soaked in hot tea. It is traditionally served at Halloween in Ireland. Not only is it delicious but it also contains your fortune in the form of symbolic trinkets hidden in the dough. When the Barmbrack was cut, everyone would look to see whose slice contained the golden ring – or, who was destined to be married within the year!

Nowadays, Barmbracks are usually baked with a ring inside them but, traditionally, other ‘fortunes’ included: the Thimble (you will stay a spinster), a Button (you will remain a bachelor), a Bean or a piece of Rag (symbolizing poverty or misfortune), a Silver Coin (riches and wealth); the Stick (is a sign of an unhappy, quarrelsome marriage). All of which makes it sound like a very maudlin, scary bread but it’s only a bit of craic or fun as they say at home.

Whichever trinkets you include, make sure they are not plastic or reactive such as a wooden button or a metal thimble, a matchstick with the head snipped off, a white bean, a gold ring, and a silver dime (not a copper coin) etc.

A nice recipe if you are interested in giving Barmbrack baking a try this spooky trick-or-treat season.


About JayCooper

Puzzled WebWizard from Mount Juliet Tennessee. Married for 25+ years to a wonderful wife with three grown sons.

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