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An Overview of Halloween and Samhain Festivals
Over the years, Halloween celebration has incorporated the Samhain festivals. Halloween is known as Samhain in the worlds of witchcraft and Wicca.
The Origin of Halloween: Samhain (Celtic Festival of Darkness and Mystical Light)
At the beginning of November, the Celtic festival of darkness is celebrated and marks the coming of winter months with the approaching darkness. The origin of the word Samhain comes from Samhradh meaning end of summer in Irish Gaelic. Samhain was a festival of deepening darkness and fading light (the dark and the light) or (death and life). In the dark aspect, this event was sometimes considered to mark an impending period of destruction and chaos.
On Samhain, the forces of darkness returned to rule. According to Irish mythology, the demonic Fomorian race oppressed the people of Nemed on 1st of November. In another legend, Aileen the burner puts everyone to sleep at Samhain and burnt the palace of the Irish kings at Tara. During the festival, groups of men, women and children wore masks and costumes causing havoc in the neighbourhood. Samhain was also the time for witchcraft, sometimes believed to bring the dead back to roam the earth. The combination of darkness and light, fear and hope, order and chaos gave this festival a merry theme & became a time for misbehaving. This is the time when all rules in all fields such as social, political, communal or psychological were meant to be broken, and new rules were created.
How Samhain Festival Represented in today’s Halloween Customs?
- The symbolic lighting of candles in the grinning pumpkin
- Popular games played at Halloween are many, including for example bobbing for apples, and ‘trick or treating’.
- The havoc wreaked by deities and the dead in modern movies like scream, Dracula, vampire stories, American werewolf in London and of course, Halloween among other classic horror movies.
- The identification of living and the dead in Halloween trick or treat and the wearing of costumes. The Tradition of Samhain feasts and of course Halloween candy.
- Mischief in many mild forms is played on people who don’t provide the costumed revellers with ‘treats’.
How to Go About Celebrating Samhain
A circle is set, and five elements are acknowledged. During the night of Samhain, the veil between the world of the living and dead is at its thinnest. Halloween is that day when it is easiest for wiccans, witches, and other spiritualists who use witchcraft to set their circle and finely attune it to the magic of the world. There are different types of rituals that spiritualists and wiccans go through when it comes to Samhain. The main rule for anyone celebrating magick is to acknowledge and respect the living, dead, rebirth and reincarnation.
Samhain was also the perfect time to tell stories about ancestors. This story-telling act is still a strong tradition in Celtic communities because they use it as a way of remembering people who have passed on. The Celtic believes that during Halloween, the connection between the dead and living is high and many regions use this festival to communicate with the dead.
Celebration of Halloween
Nowadays, celebrating Halloween has become common for both adults and children where they show their creative sides and come up with amazing Halloween costumes. It is a time when people want to be something they can’t be in their normal lives. Many folks choose to use their minds and try clever things while others follow the traditional choices of ghost and witchcraft. During Halloween, people also want their costumes to be unique and different from each other. Those that are creative and talented design their own Halloween costumes but many purchase them from stores, this has become big business. The most important thing is to wear a costume that allows you to connect with a part of yourself that may be inquisitive or mischevious.
As discussed earlier, Halloween originated from the ancient festival known as Samhain and nowadays, it is marked by activities like organising costume parties, Trick and Treat , carving pumpkins into scary lanterns, playing pranks, telling scary stories, playing witchcraft spells, lighting bonfires, apple bobbing and watching scary movies, among others. Despite the fact that Halloween originated from Western Europe, it has been embraced by many cultures around the world though Halloween traditions vary among countries. It worth mentioning that the name Halloween is derived from All Hollow’s evening, which is the eve of All Hallows’ Day also referred to as All Saints Day.
Today, a candle lit inside a carved pumpkin is one of the Halloween’s most prominent symbols commonly known as a Jack O’ Lantern. The carving of the pumpkin originated from Europe and was carved from a turnip. The head represented the most powerful part of the body and contains the spirit and knowledge. This head is used to frighten off any superstition. Pumpkins are carved into comic or downright frightening faces, and are placed with a candle inside a window or on the doorstep of a home after dark.
Halloween imagery includes magic, mythical creatures, owls, witchcraft, mummies, skeletons, demon and ghosts to mention but a few. Homes are, usually, decorated with these various symbols during the Halloween season. Nowadays, there are also particular foods that are eaten in Halloween. Many homes make different foods including cakes using the recognised symbols & themes of Halloween. For instance, it is possible to find different Halloween recipes that are perfect for both adults and children. Since the origin of Halloween or Samhain, food always plays an important role in honouring the Halloween celebrations.
Since Halloween is around the corner, it is the high time to come up with a list of things to help you celebrate this amazing festival. This Halloween, make an effort, wear a creative outfit that will bring out the best of you. Carry out enough research on Halloween decorations and recipes by reading different blogs and websites that focus on Halloween celebrations. If you have children, let them have the best trick and treat experience that they will never forget, allow them to embrace their mischievous side. Halloween is a fantastic time, enjoy the celebrations !.