Happy Samhain (or Halloween)

Halloween Jack-O-Lanterns are lit at nightSamhain (pronounced Sah-ween) is an old Celtic custom marking the end of harvest and the beginning of winter, and is known as the end of the ‘old’ year.  In fact the Celtic word, Samhain, translates to ‘summer’s end’. It is one of four on the Gaelic seasonal festivals including Imbolc, Beltaine and Lughnasadh.

The custom of Samhain traditionally involved engaging in a good ‘fall’ cleaning, taking stock of the herds and food supplies, building bonfires and/or lighting candles, and due to the thinner veil between the worlds, speaking to the dead.

People gathered and offered animals, fruits & vegetables in sacrifice.  Feasts were had including lots of dishes with apples and nuts and the souls of the dead were invited to attend with a place set at the table for them.   Bonfires were lit in honor of the souls of the dead, to aid them on their journey and keep them away from the living.  It was also customary to light a new candle for the ‘new year’.

People took care to protect themselves from harmful spirits by guising – meaning going from house to house in disguise and a gift of food, coins or apples & nuts were given to children dressed in various costumes.

Today, we mark Samhain by celebrating Halloween, lighting jack-o-lanterns and going trick-or-treating dressed as our favorite super heroes.