Samhain Traditions

Hallowe’en origins

I hope everyone had a wonderful and safe Hallowe’en!

My favourite season is Autumn and my favourite festival is Samhain (sow-in), which is the origin of the commercial holiday Hallowe’en.  As a celebrant the ancient customs and rituals feature heavily in my training and work but I have always loved Hallowe’en. As a child my mother always made a big deal of Hallowe’en despite actually despising the holiday, but she did it for us.  As I got older, I learned more about the true meaning of this holiday, which is the Celtic New Year, and I have celebrated this for years. While I love the traditions of dressing up and trick or treating, especially now with my own daughter, there are other traditions we do as a family.

Samhain Traditions

In the past Samhain was a time of great feasting. Anything that could be preserved and stored for the Winter ahead was, but a great feast was had with the food that could not be stored.  Winter meant times of great hardship and our ancestors entered this phase of the year with a celebration! Better to start it off with a bang! Food and drink and merriment gave our ancestors something to look forward to before they faced a long and arduous Winter.  

The feast of Samhain is a celebration of those who have passed and at these feasts additional plates were often made up for any passing spirits.  This is a tradition we continue to do as a family, and a plate of food was placed outside last night along with a drink.

Another tradition we continue to do is to give our thanks for the year gone and make our wish for the year ahead.  We did this by writing down what we are thankful for and burning it in a ‘cauldron’ (a mini metal bucket). We then made our wish for the coming year and burned it in the cauldron.  

Of course we went trick or treating and ate a huge amount of chocolate as well, but these are just a couple of little traditions we keep as a family to celebrate the origins and true meaning of Samhain.  It helps us feel connected to the past. Are there any traditions you keep around this or any other festival?

Click to read about wedding traditions from around the globe.

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