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.
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.
This year Samhain lands on a Monday here in the U.S. Many groups will hold an official celebration over the weekend providing an opportunity for more of their members to attend. And that’s ok, so if you know you won’t have time, or opportunity to observe the holiday on Monday night, or you want to celebrate Halloween for yourself or with your kids, conduct your spiritual Samhain ritual over the weekend. One of the great things about Paganism is that it doesn’t write things in stone. So if you’re new to the practice, allow yourself to enjoy one of the best holidays of the year.
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.
Halloween is based on All Hallows Eve, the night before All Saints Day. The later being the holiday co-opted by the church from our Pagan Celtic holiday Samhain (Sow-een) which literally translates to Summer’s End. For us Samhain is the night when the veil between the living and spirit worlds are at their thinnest. We honor our ancestors, thus “All Saint’s Day” was created to honor the Catholic Saints.
Merry Samhain and Happy Halloween