By guest writer, Jessica Wettig Hendrix
It’s that time of year again. The leaves are changing colors, the nights are longer and cooler, and things have begun to look spooky. People all around us are decorating for this holiday we call Halloween. But, history shows that Halloween is about a lot more than just costumes and pumpkins. Before it was Halloween, people called it Samhain (pronounced sah-win).
Historically, it was a festival of the ancient Celts, held around November 1 to celebrate the beginning of winter. Samhain is still celebrated today as a time to honor our ancestors and acknowledge our mortality. Pagans, witches, and others believe that the veil between the living and the dead thins around this time, allowing us to feel the presence of those who are no longer with us.
5 Great Ideas to Celebrate Samhain in 2021
1) Host a ritual. Invite some friends and family over for a dinner party, bonfire, or simply gather and share stories.
2) Create a festive fall altar. Decorate with seasonal themes and colors. Use things from your garden or home. Include some favorite items from your loved ones in your honoring of their lives and what they meant to you.
3) Light a candle or place flowers on the graves of passed loved ones, including your pets. Lighting a candle for someone indicates one's intention to say a prayer for another person, and the candle symbolizes that prayer.
4) Honor your ancestors. The idea of honoring our ancestors includes those lost recently or in one’s lifetime. Many people include any pets and animals they have lost in their practice because animals are often just as sacred. This season is also a time to honor those who have come before, for generations before us.
5) Have a costumed party at home or work. More commonly, people wear costumes often resembling the dead or something death-related and decorate their homes and workplaces with related themes. The modern traditions are likely rooted in pagan traditions.
Samhain is one of the most serious and important holidays, or sabbats, to pagans. In the witches’ Wheel of the Year, Samhain is considered to be the start of the pagan new year. Summer has ended, the harvest has ended, and it’s time to say goodbye to lost loved ones, to the passing year, and to things we want out of our lives.
Samhain is one of those universal holidays that can be celebrated by anyone, whatever their path, and in whatever way they choose. Happy Samhain!
Jessica Wettig Hendrix is a writer and pagan from Anna, Illinois. She has been a practicing witch and eclectic pagan for almost four years.
Copyright, Jessica Wettig Hendrix, 2021