Wednesday, October 21, 2009

What exactly is Samhain and where did Halloween come from?

Samhain in Gaelic actually means summer's end. "Sam" means summer and "Fuin" means end. Another fact is that the term is or never has been linked to the Celtic God of the dead or the major Sun God which share similar


In my quest for information, I've found very interesting information and have copied below the definition and celebration practices of Samhain giving credit where credit due, of course.

*Samhain (sow-inn) has been celebrated in Britain for centuries and has its origin in Pagan Celtic traditions. It was the time of year when the veils between this world and the Otherworld were believed to be at their thinnest: when the spirits of the dead could most readily mingle with the living once again. Later, when the festival was adopted by Christians, they celebrated it as All Hallows' Eve, followed by All Saints Day, though it still retained elements of remembering and honoring the dead.

To most modern Pagans, while death is still the central theme of the festival this does not mean it is a morbid event. For Pagans, death is not a thing to be feared. Old age is valued for its wisdom and dying is accepted as a part of life as necessary and welcome as birth. While Pagans, like people of other faiths, always honour and show respect for their dead, this is particularly marked at Samhain. Loved ones who have recently died are remembered and their spirits often invited to join the living in the celebratory feast. It is also a time at which those born during the past year are formally welcomed into the community. As well as feasting, Pagans often celebrate Samahin with traditional games such as apple-dooking.

Death also symbolizes endings and Samhain is therefore not only a time for reflecting on mortality, but also on the passing of relationships, jobs and other significant changes in life. A time for taking stock of the past and coming to terms with it, in order to move on and look forward to the future.

The word "Halloween" itself gets its origin from the Catholic Church and the term "All Hallow's Eve" which is another name for All Saint's Eve. November 1st is the Catholic celebration All Souls Day which honors the departed.

Not only did the Celts believe the boundary between the worlds of the living and the dead dissolved on this night, they thought that the presence of the spirits helped their priests to make predictions about the future.

To celebrate Samhain the Druids built huge sacred bonfires. People brought harvest food and sacrificed animals to share a communal dinner in celebration of the festival.
During the celebration the Celts wore costumes - usually animal heads and skins. They would also try and tell each other's fortunes.

After the festival they re-lit the fires in their homes from the sacred bonfire to help protect them, as well as keep them warm during the winter months.***

Another interesting fact I have come across is the origin of the term Halloween. The word "Halloween" gets its origin from the Catholic Church. It comes from the term "All Hallow's Eve" which preludes the Church's honor of the Saints on November 1st.

Throughout history Halloween has been debated and banned in religious circles but today seems to hold as much favoritism as Christmas for many. We see much celebration, decoration, and partying to celebrate the day. I know I go way out for the holiday.

Please drop by my blog and website and don't miss any the tricks or treats. I have a special contest going on now. For details go to my website and click on the 'Contest' page.

Thank you for having me here today.



  1. Wonderful post! This is truly one of my favorite times of the year.

  2. Love your post. Halloween is my favorite time of year. I love all the decorations--ghosts, vampires, pumpkins--you name it. My daughter was due on Halloween, but she waited to All Souls Day to make an appearance. lol

  3. Great post!!! I love this time of year. Sadly we are the only house on the block with decorations up but since we have filled our deck and yard I guess you can say we made up for their lack of excitement.

  4. Loved the post, Dayana. I've got my house decorated. Our block is very 'spirited'.

  5. Thank you all for stopping in to read my blog. I just love this time of year! I think I may need to take some pictures and post them on my blog, LOL

    Emma, Karen, Helen, Lill, and Mickey we are sisters of the darker side. You never know what's around the corner or in the darkest edge of forest/garden. That's the thrill.

    Paganism has always drawn me even from a very young age. I love the elements of the earth and nature so it seems natural.

    Bless you all and Happy Halloween and may you Samhain be blessed as well:)


  6. Hi D!
    This is without a doubt my favorite time of the year! Being of the Pagan persuasion, I follow the neo-classical tradition of modern pagans by placing photos or memoribilia of deceased loved ones on a table (including pets), lighting some candles and taking a few moments to remember those who came before me. For me, it's a time to reflect and appreciate those who are no longer a part of this world.
    Autumn S.

  7. As always... lots of great information here to be used in the future!

  8. Autumn, thank you for sharing that little tidbit of information. I didn't know that and will definitely add it to my common Samhain/All Souls Day practice. I have lost many family members and pets recently so its a nice way to honor and remember them.


  9. Hey, Catherine. Thanks for dropping by.


  10. Great info on Samhain, Dayana! Halloween is one of my two favorite times of year (Christmas being the other!) and its interesting to learn more about its history.

  11. I know it's been said but I love this time of year as well. It's not only beautiful, but it's calming to me. =) Great post!