How Fortune Telling Potatoes Became An Irish Halloween Staple

No one is quite sure how the Irish came to embrace their traditional mashed potato dish, known as the colcannon, but two theories abound. According to the Smithsonian Magazine, some believe that a man named Sir Walter Raleigh was responsible for planting the region's first potato in Youghal, County Cork, somewhere around the 17th century. Others aren't sure if this is true, since he is believed to have died by the time the first potato was planted. 

There's a second theory that's more plausible — potatoes were adopted into Irish cuisine after they showed up on a wrecked Spanish ship. Either way, the Irish loved feasting on the colcannon, a dish that's made using ingredients like potatoes, cabbage, kale and more. The meal was satiating and kept workers full for extended periods of time. There's also a Halloween angle to this — the Irish liked to hide a "trinket" in the entree and believed that the food could predict someone's future.

It's a crucial part of Irish culture

According to Atlas Obscura, bowls of colcannon usually have small trinkets such as buttons, rings, coins, and thimbles hidden inside. Each object has a different meaning attached to it. For example, if you come across a coin in your serving of colcannon, you're likely to get access to some extra money in the future. Additionally, if you find a ring in your dish, you may be getting hitched really soon. Meanwhile, a thimble signifies that marriage isn't in the cards for you just yet.

As per an article by Food & Wine, this dish is also popular around St. Patricks Day in Ireland and isn't too difficult to make. All you need is potatoes, cabbage or kale, salted butter, salt, pepper, and spring onions for a delicious dish. An important tip — ensure that you don't overcook cabbage for your dish, as it's a fairly common mistake!