This Irish Fruitcake Steals The Show During Halloween

What's your favorite part of the holiday season? We bet the odds are good to excellent that you did not answer "fruitcake," as this is a seasonal treat that many would go to great lengths to avoid. (In fact, the city of Manitou Springs, Colorado, has an annual festival devoted to throwing the stuff as far away as possible). What would you say, then, if we told you that there's a country where people actually eat fruitcake, not for Christmas but Halloween? What's more, apparently they do so of their own free will.

While your first thought might be "You're kidding me, right? Does this poor, unfortunate country not have such a thing as Snickers or Reese's cups?", you probably haven't heard the entire story. For one thing, barmbrack, which is an Irish version of fruitcake, isn't quite so ... fruitcake-y as the neon-colored doorstops that start appearing in stores before Christmastime. As Irish Central explains, it's more of a sweet(ish) yeast bread made with dried fruit such as raisins, currants, and candied fruit peel. 

The real reason people look forward to barmbrack as a Halloween tradition, however, may have to do with the fact that it's used in a fortune-telling game.

Charms baked into a barmbrack may foretell your fate

Fortune-telling cakes aren't unknown in the United States. Joe Gambino's Bakery says charms meant to signify the future are often baked into New Orleans wedding cakes, while finding a plastic baby in a Mardi Gras king cake determines the king (or queen) of the Mardi Gras festivities. In Ireland, however, the charms baked into barmbrack are part of a long-established tradition of attempting to divine the future on All Hallow's Eve.

The best-known such token, as Food52 notes, and the only one that may be baked into a store-bought barmbrack, is a "gold" ring. Whoever gets this ring in their slice of cake, it's said, will be married within a year, which is kind of creepy if the trinket goes to a six-year-old. Other charms include a button or a thimble, meaning you'll never get married, or — foretelling a far worse fate — a stick, which means you will be married but it won't be a happy union. 

The best prize of all, however, may be the silver coin, as this is meant to indicate riches in your future.