It's the quintessential Irish Samhain food: colcannon.

The name means “white-head cabbage”: col (as in “cole slaw”) + ceann (as in Kennedy, “black head”) + finn (“white”), but cabbage is only one of the autumnal triumverate that make up this classic of the peasant kitchen, onions and (of course) potatoes being the others. Before the coming of the spud, likely turnips—that other classic Samhain root vegetable—would have been the third.

How many foods do you know that have (and deserve) their own song? You can hear Mary Black singing its praises here. We sing this song every Samhain. Then we dig in.

Colcannon is good, hearty winter food, but the Samhain batch is special because then you put in the divinatory tokens before you serve it: the coin (for money), the ring (for love), the thimble (some say, spinsterhood; others, creativity).

One Samhain my covensib Kay got the coin. “I could certainly use the money,” she said, “but it doesn't seem very likely; I'm already at the top of my pay grade.”

The year went by. Whenever she remembered the coin, Kay would think: Oh well. What does a plate of mashed potatoes know about the future?


Finally, in October, she gets called in to the boss's office. “Technically you're at the top of your pay grade,” says her boss, “but we're so pleased with your work that we're giving you a raise anyway, retroactive to the beginning of last November.”


Hey, I just tell the story. You can draw your own conclusions.



There are many recipes for colcannon. Here's mine, given (in classic peasant style) without proportions.

Potatoes, boiled and skinned

Cabbage, chopped and cooked (boil or steam it; go easy on the water)

Onions, chopped

Cooking oil

Salt and pepper

In a well-seasoned iron skillet, brown the onions in the oil over medium heat, stirring frequently to prevent burning.


Mash the potatoes coarsely. Don't add any liquid. Stir in the cooked cabbage; be sure it's well-drained.

When the onions are nicely browned, turn up the heat to high. Pat the potato and cabbage mixture in the pan on top of the onions. Salt and pepper generously. Let it form a nice crust; then chop it up and flip the pieces. Let another crust form; chop and flip. Keep doing this until the colcannon forms a lovely, fragrant mass with brown veins of crust running through it. 

Add tokens and serve immediately. It's traditional to serve it directly from the pan.


For more on colcannon and other food traditions of the Midwest Tribe of Witches, 

check out The Prodea Cookbook.