Samhain (or Halloween) is one of my favorite holidays. I always loved dressing up. I’ve been Alice in Wonderland…a witch, an angel, a vampire. Even Princess Leia!
Since I’ve gotten a little older, every year about this time I find myself revisiting the stories around Samhain. By now, most of you have heard the accepted stories about Samhain, how it’s night when the veil’s thinnest, how it’s the Celtic new year. Well…
According to the lore, there’s no doubt Samhain was important.
What we do know is the Celts would hold their most important Tribal meetings at this time of year. And the lore itself bears this out. For instance, in “The Sick Bed of Cuchulainn” we find this at the very opening:
“EVERY year the men of Ulster were accustomed to hold festival together; and the time when they held it was for three days before Samhain, the Summer-End, and for three days after that day, and upon Samhain itself.”
So they definitely saw it as the end of summer. Many a time when a fae being or god crosses into our world, it’s at Samhain.
In the story of Nera, a mischievous soul asks the hero Nera to “put a rope around the foot of a hanged criminal” The ghost then wakes up and asks Nera for a drink. EEP!!!
So supernatural mischief, yes. Important day, yes. New year? Well…. some sources say yes, some sources don’t mention new year in conjunction with it at all. Whatever the ancient Celts really thought about Samhain, we’ll never know. But they left us with what has become a day of fun.
Foods of Samhain
I thought I’d send you off with a little feast. Some sources say Pigs were slaughtered to give to the kings as tribute. So definitely pigs formed some portion of Samhain feasts. Some sources I read suggest pomegranates are good to eat on this night, however…. Remember Persephone. I think I’d stay away from the pomegranates, if I were you!
Apples were bit, too. Apples were considered a food of the Otherworld. For instance, in the Irish epic poem The Voyage of Bran, about the god-king’s journey into the Otherworld, a woman comes from the Otherworld and offers a apple branch (silver, no less!) to Bran. With this, he sets off on his journey.
Peeling an apple was used as a divination tool: The longer the peel, the longer the person doing the peeling would live. They were cored and candied and baked, for the Samhain revelers’ feasts,
Also, pour a libation (of apple juice?) for loved ones who’ve passed, esp. if you’ve lost a few this year (I have, alas!)
(*it’s hard to say whether Samhain was a holiday outside the British isles. I’d have to do more research on it to answer that question!)
So, there you go. A few little facts about Samhain. And if you do invite your Ancestors in tonight? Do leave them a little feast, perhaps on a little plate on your altar. They will be hungry! Have a wonderful Samhain.
Juli D. Revezzo is the author of the MOURNING DOVE LOCKET, the latest in the Antique Magic paranormal series, also the Celtic Stewards Chronicles fantasy romance series, as well as the Gothic romance LADY OF THE TAROT. Her books are available at Amazon and elsewhere.
“Glowing Carved Pumpkin In Autumn Leaves” by Apolonia/Free Digital Photos.net
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