It happens every year. Some County official somewhere in the U.S., wants to move the observance of Halloween for little Trick-or-Treaters and I suddenly get hundreds of emails from practicing Witches about how this angers them to no end. Litterally, beginning around October 1st, I start receiving emails. By the end of the month I’ve received over 200 when all is said and done.
This year, I’m up to 167 so far. with less than a week to go. Hopefully that means word is getting out. But the general sentiment is often the same, “What right do these people have to move OUR holiday!” Here’s my question in response, Why are you upset, Halloween IS NOT our holiday?
Whether you use the Gaelic pronunciation “Sow-en”, “Sow-ween”, “Sah-ween” or the Americanized version “Sam-hain” (yes that is an acceptable pronunciation), Samhain is still the biggest holiday on the Pagan Calendar.
Samhain is a Gaelic word, and it translates to “Summer’s End”. It marks the end of the growing season and the transition into Winter. It also marks the Celtic New Year and it is observed with both reverence and of course a big party celebration.
As with all Pagan holidays, our celebrations begin at sunset. Early Pagans lived by a Lunar Calendar, not the solar based calendar we use today. Sunset marked the start of the new “day”. Observances therefore, began as the sun fell below the horizon. For modern Pagans, Samhain occurs from sunset on October 31st and extends to sunset on November 1st.
As a spiritual observance, Samhain is the time when the veil of forgetfulness is lifted between the physical and the spiritual worlds. Where the dead are honored and communication with spirit can take place more easily than any other time of the year. For Pagans it is a time of celebration for sure. But it’s also a time of reverence and deep spiritual reflection of the past, honoring what we’ve learned, our former teachers and the wisdom of the past. This is an important part of this holiday. Pagans often review the past, what we’ve gone through and what those experiences have taught us. We do this to ensure we don’t repeat lessons, and more importantly so we learn from our past. Ignoring our past dooms us to repeat mistakes, choices and struggles. Who wants to do that?!
During the waning hours of the observance, this holiday becomes a reverent observance for hope and desires of the future year to come. Not just the short term future, but the long term as well. Honoring the Divine forces, and requesting blessings for new ventures, adventures and a lifetime of goals. Along with, surviving the next few months.
Remember in those ancient days, getting through the winter months was not an easy task. Life was hard, they couldn’t drive down the street to the grocery store and pick up a roast and potatoes for the cooking pot. Hopefully they had prepared through the year and stocked their cold cellar with meat and crops from their harvest. These were their stores that would last them through the cold months. The observance of Samhain didn’t end with a New Year’s celebration. It ended with asking for help and blessings from their chosen heroes, Gods and Goddesses to survive until spring.
With the coming of Christianity in the 800s AD, the early Church tried to Christianize the old Celtic festivals in an effort to convert Pagans to Christianity. Pope Boniface IV designated the 1st of November as “All Saints Day,” honoring saints and martyrs who embodied the spirit of their God. He also decreed October 31 as “All Hallows Eve”, which allowed “the people” to honor their relatives who had passed before them. The Church completely dropped the idea of giving thanks for the harvest and attaining blessings to survive through the winter. In many ways, at least in my view, that cheapened their observation completely. They turned it into an observance for their “elite” and pushed any consideration for “the little people” to a minor after thought. But it’s that minor celebration of the dead, observed by the everyday people, that eventually becomes Hallow’een.
As you can see, Halloween IS NOT a Pagan holiday. And it never was. Yes it’s based on a our Samhain sabbat, and it most certainly incorporated elements of our Pagan observance. But Halloween was created by Christians, for Christians. So why should modern witches of today be upset if the Christians want to move their holiday? Not to mention here in the U.S. that holiday no longer observes the religious connotations it once had. And it has evolved into a fairly pure secular celebration for kids. So move it to the last Saturday of October.
I actually think that’s a great idea for the little kids. As one young man said on the News last night “If it means I get more candy, sure. I’m ok with that”. Yep…it’s a holiday for children, so let them have their fun on a night that allows them to put everything they have into it, where they get to sleep in the next day!
Regardless of when Halloween is observed, it really has nothing to do with your spiritual celebration of Samhain. Many Covens, Clans and Groves of today, celebrate Samhain on a weekend in order to include everyone in their group and to accommodate the busy schedules of today. They will gather together on the actual day of the holiday and hold a more reverent observance. So within our own community, many people “move” the day.
So there’s really no need to be upset. Being precise does not increase the “honor” or the “emotion” of a celebration. Remember your intent is much more important. The Divine Universe will understand what you mean, and even “when” you mean it. You don’t have to look at your watch and wait for the precise moment of sunset on October 31st to begin your spiritual observance. It really is, the thought that counts.
Learn more about The History Of Samhain And Evolution of Halloween.
And have a fun and safe Halloween, along with a blessed and Merry Samhain!
© 2018 Springwolf, D.D., Ph.D. Springwolf Reflections / Springs Haven, LLC. All Rights Reserved.