Creatively lit Barmbrack Loaf with sultanas against a dark background. Copy space.
Barmbrack: The Fruity Bread Eaten During Samhain
By Elaina Friedman
Ancient Celts began celebrating Samhain, an early precursor to Halloween, on October 31 and November 1 to commemorate the harvest season. Rituals included lighting a giant fire from a wooden wheel, building altars for the dead, and sacrificing cows, but more mild traditions from the holiday remain in Ireland today.
The Samhain tradition of barmbrack, a yeasted bread speckled with raisins, was likely developed as a means of preserving fine fruits into fall and winter. Culinary expert Dr. Máirtín Mac Con states, "These rich fruit cakes were a way of preserving raw ingredients, though brack doesn't last quite as long as a traditional Christmas cake." notes that while barmbrack is eaten throughout the year in Ireland, come Halloween, it provides "fortune-telling significance for the year ahead." Finding a certain object in your Halloween barmbrack could mean different things — for example, a ring may mean you will marry soon, while a cloth signifies bad luck.