Hallowe’en – All Hallow’s Eve – Samhain – Summers End – Celtic New Year
Samhain was a time to honour our ancestors and feast with them as the veil between worlds is at its thinnest. The summer’s end harvest was celebrated by leaving food out for visiting ancestors inviting help for the nest harvest.
Masks (usually animal masks) would be worn to disguise against unwelcome guests that cross over from the thin veils – left over crops, milk and whiskey would be left for them to avoid mischievous tricks being played on them.
Trick or Treat evolved into the poor begging for food by reciting a song or poem, a trick was a fun idle threat.
Pumpkins are an extension of the mask tradition to ward of mischievous spirits. In Britain where Halloween originates, we used swede, beetroot or a spud!
Jack 0’Lantern is said to be an Irish miser who played tricks on people, including the Devil and was refused entry to Heaven or Hell and given only a lantern to help see him through the long, cold, dark nights.
Fires were lit for people and cattle to pass between for cleansing, also for storytelling. Sticks were thrown into the fire symbolising something that was wished to be released.
Games were played, traditionally fortune telling and matchmaking.
A couple would throw a hazel nut each into the fire and ask “If you love me pop and fly, if you hate me burn and die!”
Apples if cut through sideways shows the pentagram symbol of protection. The number of pips can be counted for divination. Apple skin can be peeled in one piece, thrown over your shoulder to spell the first letter of your future husband’s name.
Eat an apple by candlelight and look into the mirror to see your future husband. (Or just sleep with the apple under your pillow to dream of him if you’re a scaredy cat)!
And finally, don't squash a spider on Hallowe'en (or ever!), it might just be an ancestor dropping in to say hi!