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The Story of the Origin of Halloween

It's coming up to that time of year when I assume a smug expression and regale anyone who'll listen with the origins of Halloween, which lie firmly in this corner of the world. Halloween dates back to the ancient Celtic festival of Samhain (pronounced 'sow-in' or thereabouts, depending on what part of Ireland you’re from). The Celts celebrated their New Year on the first day of November. That day officially marked the end of summer and the beginning of the dark, cold winter, a time of year also associated with human death back then. Celts believed that on the night before their New Year, 31st October, the boundary between the worlds of the living and the dead became blurred and the ghosts of the dead returned to earth. It was a time to honor those who'd gone before them, a time to show gratitude for their ancestors' strength, their spirit and their ability to survive through the hardest of times.

To celebrate they built huge, sacred bonfires and gathered there to burn crops and animals as sacrifices to the Celtic deities. They wore costumes, typically consisting of animal heads and skins, and attempted to tell each other’s fortunes. When the celebration was over, they re-lit their hearth fires, which they had extinguished earlier that evening, from the sacred bonfire to help protect them during the coming winter.

In 609 AD the Pope dedicated the Pantheon in Rome in honour of all Christian martyrs and so the Catholic feast of All Martyrs Day was established in the Western church. A subsequent Pope expanded the festival to include all saints as well as martyrs and moved the observance to 1st November. When Christianity spread to Celtic lands the Church gradually blended All Martyrs Day with Samhain and the older Celtic rites. In time they supplanted them altogether. In 1000 AD, the church made 2nd November All Souls Day, a day to honour the dead. As with most of today's Christian festivals, the Church was replacing the Celtic festival with a related, but Church-sanctioned holiday. All Souls Day was celebrated in the same way as Samhain with huge bonfires, parades, and people dressing up as saints, angels and devils. All Saints Day was also called All-Hallows and the night before it, the traditional night of Samhain in the Celtic religion, was called All-Hallows Eve which eventually became Halloween.

So there you have it. However you're celebrating Samhain/Halloween this year, stay safe, have a wonderful time and take a moment to remember where it all began... in Old Ireland. 🥰

Proof of full vaccination required when attending the Irish Club

Due to the recent rise in COVID cases and recommendations from public health the Irish Association will now require anyone attending the club in person to provide proof of full vaccination as of Aug 26th/2021. This will be a temporary measure that will be reassessed in the fall by the board. Masks will also be required when moving throughout the facility but not when seated at the table. Thank you for your understanding and cooperation.  Slainte 🙏☘️


This is a great time to renew your membership if you haven't already or join! The more the merrier at the Irish Club. Membership is also a great way to support the club in these trying times. Visit for more info.

Damien Bessette Scholarships

The Board of Trustees will be accepting applications for 2021-22 scholarships until Friday October 31, 2021.

To be eligible to receive a scholarship, an applicant must:

• Be a voting member of the Irish Association of Manitoba for a period of at least t​hree consecutive years prior to applying for a scholarship, or the child or grandchild of such a member, and

• Be a registered full time student in a program of at least one year duration at a Canadian college, university or other institution of post-secondary training, and not have previously received a Damian Bessette Scholarship.

Application forms may be obtained by contacting Bridgette Allen Hampton at [email protected]

Expansion of Passport Online Services

Passport Online has expanded its services and is now open to all applicants residing in Canada! This means, in addition to renewals, first time applicants can use the Passport Online tool to apply for their Irish passport (or renew their passport that was issued over 15 years ago). The expanded service includes both adult and children's applications. For information on how to apply, or to begin your application, please see:

Passport Online provides citizens with faster processing times and lower fees than the alternative paper route. The Passport Service recently resumed processing online applications and they aim to have the current backlog of onlie applications cleared within the next 6-8 weeks. The online service still remains the fastest way to apply for an Irish passport.

This has been anything but a normal year for the Association as we confronted Covid-19.

The impact on the club finances has been immense. With the necessity to cancel St. Patrick’s celebrations & Folklorama, our two main fundraisers, in addition to losing all rental potential & club functions the association has generated no income since March. We have seen our share of good times and bad, but Covid-19 has been a complete game changer for our finances. Therefore the IAM board is asking for your support in it’s fundraising efforts.

Fundraising Irish Association of Manitoba

Dear Members,

As you know the Irish Association of Manitoba needs to fund raise to keep the doors open and continue to operate the Irish Club. We need your support now more than ever!

In addition to becoming a member, we are also offering sponsorship packages. Payments to start as of November 15/2020. Bronze to Gold packages can be paid in full if desired.

Bronze Sponsor - $100 ($25/month)

After 4 consecutive months of sponsorship:

1 fish and chip supper *

1 complimentary alcoholic or nonalcoholic beverage

Silver Sponsor - $180 ($45/month)

After 4 consecutive months of sponsorship:

2 fish and chips suppers*

2 complimentary alcoholic or nonalcoholic beverages

Gold Sponsor - $300 ($75/month)

After 4 consecutive months of sponsorship:

2 fish and chip suppers*

2 complimentary alcoholic or nonalcoholic beverages

2 tickets to the next St. Patrick’s Day Gala**

Platinum Sponsor - $1000 (payment in full)

4 fish and chip suppers*

1 complimentary bottle of wine

Advertising on the IAM website

Sponsors can also choose where they would like their funds allocated. These include but are not limited to:

• Roof Repairs

• Kitchen Upgrades

• Operating Budget

All sponsors will be recognized on the IAM website.

Please email [email protected] 

for more information.

Thank-you for your continued support.

*Meal/beverage sponsorship reward available until Jan 1, 2022.

**Meal rewards and Gala tickets will distributed in late February 2021

For more information, forms & list of sponsors please click on the "Learn More" button below which will take you to the "Sponsorship Drive" page.

Learn More

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December Newsletter