Samhain (prounced SOW-an) is also known as All Hallows Eve and Halloween. Coming from the Celtic tradition, it is the last of three harvest festivals, and is the start of winter. It is also the beginning of their new year – actually it’s both the end of the old year, as well as the beginning of the new year all at once. Because of the slim space between that overlap, this is known as a “thin time”.
Samhain was also the time of year when the Celts would remember and celebrate their loved ones who had died. They believed that during this thin time, the spirits of their ancestors could walk the earth and move among us. To celebrate this event they would carve lanterns and place them outside their homes with candles in them, to light the path for these spirits as they traveled. They would also set out food for the ancestors to nourish them on their journey. Sound familiar? Maybe a little bit like what we do on Halloween as we carve Jack-O-Lanterns and put they outside our homes, and hand out treats to all of the costumed “spirits” who show up at our door? Of all of the festivals we celebrate today, our Halloween observation is the most authentic to how it was originally celebrated in ancient times.
I love the photo above, of a monument at Lakewood Cemetery, because it’s a wonderful representation of how we merge the final harvest festival, and the remembering of ancestors. Note the sheath of wheat alongside the figure on the top of the monument.
I have a great love for genealogy, family, ancestors and history, so this is one of my favorite times of year. It gives me a deep sense of connectedness to those who have gone before me, and is a reminder of the responsibility I have to those who will come after.
HAPPY SAMHAIN EVERYONE!!!
***What are some of your favorite Halloween traditions?