Happy Samhain

Today is Halloween, All Hallows’ Eve, the time before All Saints Day, which in the Christian calender is the time to honour the saints and recently departed. While Halloween is a Christian holiday it has its origins in pre-Christian Gaelic culture.

So maybe I should say happy Samhain, the pre-Christian Gaelic festival to celebrate the end of the harvest and the start of the darker half of the year. It is that time of year where we do a stock take of the harvest and start to organise for the coming winter. However, with the coming of darkness it is also the time for supernatural intensity. The forces of darkness and decay will be abroad, spilling out of the barrows (or sidh) around the Irish countryside. So we all better start building those bonfires to ward off the spirits.

Bonfire warding off evil spirits. Source
Bonfire warding off evil spirits. Source: Ancient Scotland and Samhain

 

For more on the ‘Celtic’ origins of Halloween read: Samhain and the Celtic Origins of Halloween Rogers, in Nicholas Rodgers (2002) Halloween: from pagan ritual to party night

If you are in a festive mood, have a try at this Halloween quiz from National Geographic: click here

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