I’m pretty late with this post but better late than never, I suppose. 🙂 For reference, the Gaelic word Samhain is pronounced ‘sow-en’ or ‘sah-wen’ – not ‘sam-hane’ – and the featured image belongs to DragonOak.
Samhain is considered the 3rd and final harvest of the year, in many Pagan traditions. It is the turn of the wheel that marks the finishing of Fall’s work and the brief resting period that sometimes follows, as we move into the darker half of the year (Samhain to Beltane). For us, the bit of rest helps us gear up for the upcoming Holiday season.
Samhain is the Celtic/Gaelic version of an ancient holiday that reminds us to honor our ancestors. Mexico’s Day of the Dead is similar in many ways. It is the time of year the veil between our world and theirs is believed to be the thinnest. Many choose this time to communicate with loved ones who’ve passed on, through divination. Others may set an extra place at the table in remembrance. Still others simply look back with fondness.
A secular celebration for many today, Halloween activities have a basis in these ancient Pagan traditions. Dressing up was once meant to frighten off spirits who may wish to do harm. Guising started in the Middle Ages, when people in costume went door to door asking for food or money as payment for songs or prayers for the dead. This became trick-or-treating in the early 1900s, when kids would prank those who didn’t “treat” them. Somewhere along the way, their end of the exchange became forgotten.
For me, the main point of Samhain is to honor those who came before me and respect Death as a natural part of Life’s cycle. It is, effectively, the final harvest in this life, though I personally believe it is only the body that dies. Far from being “scary” or “gruesome”, it is a reminder that life is a continual thing and death is nothing to fear.
However you celebrate, or choose not to, I hope you all enjoy the remainder of your Fall season and the time life gives us with our loved ones.