Samhain: A Festival, a Tradition

October 11, 2019

Hello Everyone,

Since I have been mentioning it in several of the last blogs I thought I would share a little information about Samhain. As many people know, because they have heard it before or read some of my previous posts, Samhain has a lot of relevance to Halloween. A topic I have been focusing on this month.

What is Samhain?

Samhain is a Gaelic festival marking the end of the harvest season and celebrating the beginning of the darker half of the year. It is traditionally celebrated from sunset of October 31st to the sunset of November 1st. This marks a Gaelic day in full cycle.

It is one of the four seasonal Gaelic festivals that also include Imbolc, Beltane, and Lughnasadh. All of which celebrate or mark the beginning or ends of seasons in the Gaelic cycles. Samhain just happens to fall on Halloween or at least coincide with it so that’s why it is the main topic.

Ancient traditions:

In the earlier years the festival is said to have Celtic Pagan roots and the practices were focused primarily on paying respects to certain entities that could influence the coming darker times. This was often celebrated by having large bonfires and carrying around gourds or turnips carved to hold the flames within them. This is believed to be the start of Jack-o’-lanterns. Early Irish Folklore shares tales of important things occurring on this date and that’s why it was feared in some respect. It was believed that this was the time of year that the spirits or beings from beyond the grave or from the other world’s could more easily cross over. Whether to stay or to bring back victims to their world it is unsure.

If you think about that, it’s kind of like our twilight every night. A point between the darkness and the light. Should keep that in mind when telling someone to be home before dark. Maybe it would be safer if they were home before twilight. Ha!

Halloween and Samhain:

Around the 9th Century, Western Christianity took its hold on the festival. While celebrating its All Saints’ Day and All Souls’ Day the three days eventually merged to create what we know more commonly now as Halloween. Don’t get me wrong there are still people who celebrate the individual holidays. Both separate from each other and also defined by their heritage and original roots.


Thanks for Reading,

Joshua Crane Dowidat

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