Samhain marks one doorway out of the two great doorways of the Celtic year. The Celts separated the year into two seasons: the light and the dark; at Beltane and Samhain. People believed that whisperings of new beginnings are heard clearly in dark silence. The most magically effective time of this festival is the night of 31st October, today known as Halloween.
Literally Samhain means ‘summer’s end’. The night before this day became famous as Halloween. On 2nd November All Souls Day started to be observed and people worshipped for all souls who were waiting to enter heaven. Throughout the centuries, Christian and Pagan beliefs got interlaced in a gallimaufry of celebrations.
Approximately around eighth century or so, Catholics decided to use 1st November as All Saints Day. This was actually a quite smart action on their part. The reason was the local Pagans were already celebrating that day, so it was sensible to use it as a church holiday. All Saints’ Day became the festival to tribute any saint who did not already have a day of his or her own. The mass which was delivered on All Saints Day was called All Hallowmas – the mass of all those who are hallowed. The night before All Saints’ Day naturally became known as All Hallows Eve and finally morphed into an event what we call Halloween today.
The Celtic New Year commences with the sunset on Samhain. The old year is over, the harvest has been gathered, cattle and sheep have been brought in and leaves have fallen from trees. The earth around us steadily begins to die. At this time people look at wrapping up the old things in life that are still unresolved. So that when the incomplete stuff clears away, you can start looking towards the next year.
For some people, Samhain is the time to honor their ancestors. Samhain gives you the perfect night to celebrate the memory of your dear ones who have died in the past year. If you are lucky enough, your ancestors will return to converse with you from beyond the veil. They also advice you, guide you and offer protection for the forthcoming year.
Samhain is a harvest festival which has its primordial roots in Celtic polytheism. This harvest festival was associated to other festivals that took place around the same time in other cultures of the Celts. The celebration of this festival continued in late medieval times. Samhain actually refers to the portion of the holiday on 1st November.
If you desire to observe Samhain in the Celtic tradition, extend the festivities for over three successive days. You can have a ritual and a banquet every night. As far as Samhain rituals are concerned they are End of the harvest, ritual for animals, holding a séance, honoring the ancestors, holding a dumb supper, celebrating the cycle of life and death, honoring God and Goddesses and ancestor meditation. Now, you are fully acquainted with Samhain, have a nice time on this occasion this year.
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