Nowadays we give children sweets – because, let’s face it, they don’t seem to want anything else and they have come to expect it, but this practice of giving something during Halloween originated with… you guessed it, the fairies.

If you’d like to celebrate Samhain with us and the other unseens, do come along. Book it here. If you need to find out more, you may email There will be a shadow play, beautiful moonlit and candle walk and we will be making rowan amulets.

Do read on about the different offerings fairies would be given.

Part of the Broighter hoard, thought to have been part of a votive deposit – possibly an offering to Manannán
The Boighter Hoard – found on the shores of Lough Foyle, it was believed to be an offering to Manannan Mac Lir, sea sea god of the Celts (s senior Da Dannan)

Now that we have established that fairies have little to do with adorable harmless beings which grant wishes, but instead can grow and shrink at will, have fun with the wind and weather, play tricks on you and curse you viciously – or alternatively bless you lavishly – we understand why there was a long tradition in offering things to them.

6 Life Lessons from a Balinese Offering | MindBodyWise
Balinese offerings

There are a few days in a year when the veils grow thin and Halloween is one of them. During this time, offerings would be laid out for the wee folk in order to be in their good favour. If you were in with the fairies, your butter would always ‘take’ your cows would always give milk and your children would be safe.

Offerings still take place in many places in the world – in Bali elaborate ceremonies would be held in temples for ancestors and the many Hindu-Buddhist syncretic gods of the island. In China ancestor worship still occurs and people leave food around for Hungry Ghosts (those with no descendants). Even in Christianity, an offering is made at the high point of the service, where the sacrifice of Christ is recalled – his death takes away our ‘sins’.

Here are somethings which people did for the fairies.


Myths & Legends | Carlingford | Visit Carlingford

Cows used to play a massive part in the rural economy. Many things were measured according to cows. For instance, if you cut down a royal tree you would have to pay the offended party back in cows, calves and heifers. Probably the most famous war in ancient Ireland was started because of a cow – the Tain, which ends with the death of Cuchulain, began because Maeve wanted a bull to match her husband’s white bull. So it is no surprise that what they produced was often left for the fairies.

When you milked a cow, you would purposely spill some milk on the floor of the barn for the fairies. This practice was still quite common until recently.

Refurbished vintage oak butter churn on stand | Andy Thornton


Butter would often be left out. If you cut butter you would not clean the knife because the fairies would take the bits that were left on the knife. Bog butter was placed in a bog – sometimes it was thought for preservation, but possibly also as an offering.


“Produce of sea to land,
Produce of land to sea;
He who doeth not in time,
Scant shall be his share.

Seaweed being cast on shore
Bestow, Thou Being of bestowal;
Fruitfulness being brought to wealth,
O Christ, grant me my share!”

According to the website Tairis, seaweed would also be offered since it was plentiful and necessary to life, especially on the lough shore. Did you know that all seaweed is edible – as in it will not kill you. Some are less edible than others, but it is important that you look out for gutweed and not harvest there as it indicates the presence of sewage and pollution.

Bladderwrack: Benefits, Uses, and Side Effects
The gametes of bladderwarck can be pickled to make a really tasty snack!


In the past ale was the go to sacrificial liquid. You would either pour it on the ground, OR you could prepare a little table for the wee folk. In many parts of Asia this is till done. Food and alcohol is offered to spirits and then you partake of it after they have eaten the ‘essence’. People who do this SWEAR that the food has no more taste after the spirits have ‘eaten’ them.

Odin - Wikipedia

Being kind

You were never allowed to turn someone away. If a stranger came asking for a night’s lodging and food you had to give it to them because they could be a spirit in disguise and if you refused them they could curse you. Throughout all of history, stories are replete with this injunction. Even Christians have this as a central tenant to their practice. Muslims are not allowed to refuse anyone shelter and food. In ancient Greece you could not ask someone who they were until after they had eaten and drank and even slept i.e the next day.

The God here is Odin. It was one of his favourite tricks to wander about in disguise with a giant floppy hat to hide his missing eye – which he sacrificed to gain all the wisdom in the world.

Human sacrifice??

There is not a lot of evidence of the regular practice of human sacrifice. Bog men which have been ritually killed have turned up now and then, but the stories of killing prisoners, infants, etc may have been Roman propaganda. The druids never wrote of their practices since everything was passed down through word of mouth. The only person who writes about this most heinous of sacrifices (certainly to the Romans) was Julius Caesar – which is ironic seeing how he was responsible for the death of hundreds of thousands of people. It was thought that this was written in to justify the brutal repression of the druidic religion when the Roman conquered Gaul and later Britain.


You could also protect yourself from the fairies by using certain charms and amulets. The most powerful tree for this purpose was the rowan tree. It’s blood red berries and useful wood – used especially to build ships for this purpose – made sure that you were not harmed by nefarious intentions.

Rowan (Sorbus aucuparia) - British Trees - Woodland Trust
Rowan Tree – the most powerful protection against spells

If you’d like to celebrate Samhain with us and the other unseens, do come along. Book it here. If you need to find out more, you may email There will be a shadow play, beautiful moonlit and candle walk and we will be making rowan amulets.