Samhain is a Gaelic word that literally translates to “Summer’s End”. It’s pronounced as sow-en, sow-ween, and yes, for some the Americanized Sam-hain really is acceptable. The holiday reminds us that things change and that includes the words we use, how we use them and even how we say them.
For the Celts, it marks the new year and the renewal of the Wheel of Life. We remember that all things move and change through observances of the changing seasons in the explosion of color (in fall or spring). The only constant in the Divine Universe is that things change. How they change depends on you. For what you think, say and do create the world around you.
Samhain is seen as the night when the dead come through the veil of the Otherworld and visit their living relatives and friends to join in ritual celebrations. This makes Samhain one of the most perfect times to communicate with spirits and honor the loved ones lost during this past year.
For some this holiday is a festival that is celebrated over a period of days. From 1 night, to 3 or even a full week of 7. Some even take 9 full days to recognize the Triple Goddess of Maiden, Mother and Crone to honor the transitions of the Wheel, Circle or Cycle of life.
The holiday is still the biggest holiday on the Pagan Calendar even in our modern times. You can find some form of “The Witches Ball” in every region of the world. They are often spectacular parties that begin with a spiritual opening to honor the Divine in many forms, give thanks to the final harvest and the year that has passed. Followed by dancing, merriment and a great feast for all to share. Ending with ceremonies that set the energy for the coming year, new plans and new ventures being put into action. Closing with prayer and thanks to the spirits who shared in the joyful celebration and to the Divine spirits for blessing the evening. Of course this is not set in stone and the schedule of the evening can be laid out differently for the many Traditions in our religion.
Ceremonies I have officiated do all the spiritual circle work up front, and leave the celebration festivities at the end. It’s much easier to focus on the reverence of the evening before the Ale and Mead begin to flow. 😉
Pagans follow a lunar calendar as was the way in the Ancient world. Our holidays begin when the sunsets no matter how many days are planed to observe the holiday, it will end at sunset the following day(s). For Samhain the holiday begins on October 31st and it will end at sunset on November 1st, if a single day is being used to recognize the event.
That tradition of sunset celebrations is the influence of the Christian celebration of All Hallow’s Eve, the precursor to modern Halloween. Yes my friend, Halloween is not a pagan holiday or celebration. All Hallow’s Eve was developed by the early Catholic Church to convert pagans to Christianity. Over time and as people from varying countries migrated to the United States, All Hallow’s Eve slowly evolved into a secular (no religious observance) celebration of childhood and Halloween. Halloween today is nothing more than a time for children and adults who are young at heart to dress up and play for an evening of laughter and fright.
Which ever holiday you observe, may it be a safe, wonderful and happy evening of fun!
You can learn more about The History Of Samhain And Evolution of Halloween here on Springwolf Reflections.
Merry Samhain and Happy Halloween
~ Spring 🐾
© 2013 Springwolf, D.D., Ph.D. Springwolf Reflections / Spring’s Haven, LLC. All Rights Reserved.