What Links Halloween, Samhain And All Hallows Eve?

It’s Halloween!

Halloween is a time of fun for children; of Trick or Treat, parties, bonfires, apple bobbing, scary stories of ghosties and ghoulies, of carving golden pumpkins. But is that all? No, there is much more to Halloween than you might think. The tradition of Halloween goes way back through history and has been celebrated in some shape or form by practically every known civilisation and has provided an important element to us humans – a relationship between the living and the dead. Halloween is not just celebrated in the western culture but in other parts of the world too.

Check out Mexico’s Day of the Dead, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Day_of_the_Dead or the Far East’s Ghost Festival http://Teng Chieh

Halloween scene with carved candle-lit pumpkins and children in fancy dress pointing to turreted castle.

Halloween is a special time of year where the wheel of the unfolding year turns once more into the dark side, into the winter months, into the shortened daylight hours.

Halloween is a time to reflect

Halloween is a time for rest and deep inner reflection. It is a special time to remember and honour those we love who are no longer with us and to remember all who passed before. It is also a time to acknowledge that vastness of conscious humanity and the ancestors we never knew.

For our ancestors, the dark short winter days brought uncertainty. It must have been a worrying and frightening time. With crops harvested and the long summer days gone, would they have enough food to last the long winter, or enough fuel collected for cooking and warmth? Would they survive the long cold winter with all its hardships?

Fear of the dark

And what of that innate fear of the dark that troubles many humans? At Halloween folk were worried about leaving their homes after dark because ghosts were thought to come back to our earthly world. Hiding in costumes and masks, they thought ghosts would recognise them as kindred spirits, not as humans in disguise!

Halloween, the Celts and Samhain

Halloween dates back to the ancient sacred Celtic festival of Samhain (pronounced “SOW-in” or “SAH-win”). October 31st marked the eve of the start of the spiritual new year for the Celts and the druids who were the ancient celtic priests. For them, All Hallows Eve was a sacred time, where the veil between the living and the dead was at its thinnest, allowing ghosts of the dead to return to earth.

“Bone-Fires” or Bonfires

Fires were extinguished at the start of Samhain. The Celtic druids then lit a new fire, tossed in bones of animal sacrifices and this “fire of bones” gave us the word “bonfire” we use today.
People lit torches from this fire and re-lit the fire in their own hearths with them and believed it offered protection through the dark winter days because it had come from the “bone-fire”. (Geoffrey Keating, The History of Ireland).

Interestingly All Saints Day (November 1) incorporated some of the traditions of Samhain. Pope Gregory III designated this day as a time to honour all saints during his reign (731-741 AD). Then in 1000 A.D, the church made November 2 All Souls’ Day – a day to honour the dead. This celebration too was very similar to Samhain. People dressed as saints, angels and devils and lit big bonfires.

An attempt perhaps to replace an unacceptable sacred Celtic festival with an acceptable Christian holiday?

You can find lots more information about Halloween and All Hallows Eve here www.ancient.eu

Halloween is more than just Trick or Treat

As the late October nights lengthen and the air takes on that damp earthy, leafy smell of autumn and children climb into their Halloween Trick or Treat costumes; as we carefully carve out space in our pumpkins to place lighted candles, perhaps those connections to that sacred Celtic time of Samhain are not so distant in our past. Perhaps we have transcended time.

All Hallows Eve is a time for rest and deep inner reflection. Aside from the dressing up, the Trick or Treating and the pumpkin lanterns, it is a special time to remember and honour those we love who are no longer with us and a time to acknowledge that vastness of conscious humanity and the ancestors we never knew.


So why not light a candle on this All Hallows Eve?

Perhaps even two, three or more and just pause and take a moment to quietly reflect.

A Halloween candle lit with flame burning against a dark background.

Check out my website here https://www.hypnotherapysomerset.co.uk/

Until next time …….

© Copyright 2020 – Sharon Eastwood. All rights reserved.

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