Samhain pronounced sa:win is a festival marking the end of the summer season and the third and final harvest according to the Wheel of the Year; moving into the Earth’s phase of the “Crone” when the cycles change from longer days with shorter nights entering into the cycles of shorter days with longer nights. This Gaelic festival has also been associated to All Soul’s Day, Day of the Dead, and influencing the secular customs connected to Halloween.
Starting on October 31st (All Hallows Eve) on through to November 1st and 2nd, this festival marks the Celtic New Year. Usually celebrated with feasts from a good harvest and traditions of honoring ancestors and loved ones passed. Connecting to our past to help us learn for our future whilst also preparing for the colder/ darker days ahead. “Dark” not with the negative but literally darker days. Days with less Sun means less time for plants to fruit and generate crop and so Samhain marks the first celebration of the Fall and Winter months when community and family unite to help get through the hardships of the “dark days”. But since we live in the modern age where the threat of starvation is less likely during the winter we have passed on the festivities and merriment that begins on Samhain through to Thanksgiving and on to the Yule.
Seeing as our family dogma resonates to a more Earth based spirituality we have included several specific “pagan” traditions within the spiritual traditions our parents had raised us with and without even knowing it we had already been celebrating many modern day Holidays influenced by Pagan philosophy. i.e. Imbolic (Groundhogs Day), Easter (Ostara or Spring Equinox), Mother’s Day (Beltane), Father’s Day (Summer Solstice), and even Christmas (Yule)
For those families who observe this holiday it is practiced with their own traditions best suited to their own family dynamic. In our family, Samhain rituals include a feast of Winter Casserole with Herb Dumplings, baking goodies, milling ciders, carving pumpkins, dressing up in costume, trick or treating, and setting up an Ancestral Altar.
Where did that come from… how did the tradition of bobbing for apples, jack’o lanterns, and trick or treating come to pass.