It’s the most wonderful time of year! Halloween is coming! With it being the spooky season, scary movies will be plentiful to pick from on all streaming services and on sale in other places. Other stuff that isn’t so scary will be popular too. I hope I can find Scary Godmother. That being said, some of the things we watch are specifically based on Halloween, but do you know what Halloween really is? Let me tell you about some of the things I know.
Halloween is also known as Samhain (Sow-en or Sam-hayn). Samhain is a Celtic festival held at the end of October, in today’s world, on the 31st. It marks the end of summer and the beginning of winter. Samhain is the New Year like we celebrate on December 31st. It also marks the last harvest of the season. Many believe it is when the veil between the living and the dead is the thinnest. Finally, it is the day the God dies. Worry not, he will be reborn at Yule.
Jack ‘o lanterns used to be turnips and other root veggies. Today we use pumpkins but once it was whatever was handy. While Halloween has never been about evil or the devil, evil exists and one of the Celts’ answers to this was Jack ‘o lanterns. They are meant to ward off evil, negativity, and the evil eye. Jack ‘o lanterns are meant to protect both the living and the dead. It keeps the bad spirits out of our homes. They also scare negative spirits away from our loved ones so they can pass back over. They were put in windows or the perimeter of circles. It is akin to the practice of putting candles in the windows to light the way for the dead.
Samhain/Halloween is without a doubt a time to honor your ancestors, but the dead in general also. It is a practice in Ireland for hundreds of years to put a plate of food out on the night of Samhain. This way, if the dead tire or hunger on their journey back to their side of the veil, they have food for energy.
Costumes and masks are another answer to bad spirits running around on Halloween, especially at night. They confuse the spirits so they wouldn’t know you are and follow you home.
Halloween is great for divination. The veil being thin is not a bad thing. It also allows us to divine easier. The veil being thinner allows messaged to come through much “louder” and “clearer”. It is a popular Halloween pastime to try to divine who your future spouse will be. There are so many ways to do it. I like the peel an apple and throw it over your shoulder.
On Samhain in Rome, it was Opposite Day. Everything was turned around. Even Kings were slaves and slaves were kings. This honored Pamona, the Goddess of Apples. The next day is the Festival of Fortuna, the Goddess of Wealth and Luck. The Romans believed that Pamona and Fortuna could and do go back and forth to Hades to bring loved ones back to part with us then return then to the Underworld.
The old hag witches we see in décor is actually a woman the Celts honored at this Halloween. The Crone. She just lost her husband that day. She is in mourning with a glimmer of hope. She will give birth to the God at Yule.
Halloween today is still very much like it used to be. The Catholic church tried to rename it Michaelmas so that there was a day of feasting in honor of St. Michael. When that failed, they changed it to All Hallows Eve and the next day is All Saint’s day and proves to be very embedded into the Church now.
Now you learned a bit more about the fantastic Halloween holiday. Did you know any of this? Do you know something about Halloween that I didn’t cover? As a bonus piece of trivia: the intense fear of Halloween is called Samhainophobia. Halloween isn’t just a holiday, it’s a lifestyle. Who agrees? Let me know in the comments below. Until next time…