Halloween, sweet Halloween. Every child and most of the adults nowadays love to celebrate this spooky day. Most of us, modern witches call it Samhain- like the Celts did long ago. Christians celebrate All Hallows’ Day around the same time, Latin countries celebrate the Day of the Dead. Historians speculate that before Christianity erased the pagan traditions from most of European continent- other tribes were also celebrating similar festivals to Samhain. Death and the visiting of the spirits of our dead and other creatures from the other side is a very common concept all over the World, as a for of preparation for this upcoming Halloween season I want us to compare similarities and see how beautifully unique perspective, each Tradition has on Death and its celebration.
Samhain is a festival marking the end of the harvest season. In the Wheel of the Year is the third and last Harvest of the year. Traditionally celebrated from October 31st to November 1st - as Celts’ days were beginning and ending with the sunset.
There is quite some evidence left pointing out the importance of this day thorough the Gaelic lands. Neolithic passage tombs are aligned with the sunrise around this time of the year, early Irish literature as well as mythology mentions this date a lot.
It was the time when people were getting ready for the horrors of Winter, by slaughtering the livestock, stocking up on grain and other foods. The celebration itself was a big feast, with some offerings of food and drinks left outside for the passing spirits.
Special fires were lit- to protect and cleanse the folk and the land. This time was known to provide an easy passage between this and the spirit worlds. The fey, fairies, old gods, ghosts of deceased and all the other creatures were coming out to play. To protect yourself from being used and abused by any of those spirits, the folk practiced guising and mumming. To blend in with these beings they were putting on disguises and going door-to-door reciting verses in exchange for food. Just imagine today’s trick-or-treaters getting a roasted pig's leg instead of candy- I might do it one year just for my cruel heart’s pure enjoyment! Divination was a big part of the celebrations- unsurprisingly this involved apples and nuts!