Did a spell block you from seeing this image? Click 'Enable images' on your browser to reverse it!

Why Do People Celebrate Halloween and What Does It Have to Do with Samhain?

3 Comments

With all the parties and trick-or-treating that's going on every 31st of October, it's easy to lose track of the true spirit of Halloween. In fact, only a few people know that this popular holiday has its roots in pagan culture! 

Let's look at how the ancients celebrated Samhain before, how we celebrate Halloween now, and the ways the two converge in the modern world.

A blast from the past

Around 2,000 years ago, the Celts celebrated their New Year during the period corresponding to October 31st or November 1st. 

Since winter was near around this time, they marked Samhain Night as the night of endings - the Earth was to "die", ready to go into a cold slumber. But then, the Celts also knew that after a few months, the Earth would jump back to life. That is why it is also a time of new beginnings.

Samhain was also called the Day of the Dead. The Celts believed that this night allowed for spirits to pass through Earth on their way to the afterlife. They honored their dead by lighting bright bonfires or lighting candles by the window.

Did a spell block you from seeing this image? Click 'Enable images' on your browser to reverse it!

People of this time feared that not all wandering spirits on Samhain were good. To ward off these malevolent beings, they carved faces onto turnips and placed lighted candles inside. This is the predecessor of the jack-o'-lantern that we know today.

Actually, almost all Halloween traditions owe their existence to Samhain. Trick-or-treating, lighting bonfires, apple bobbing, and drinking cider all originated from what people did thousands of years ago. 

The here and now

Modern-day Halloween is one of the biggest and most popular holidays in the world. In 2019, Americans spent a whopping $9 billion for it!

You can pretty much picture Halloween night - scary movie marathons, parties, costumes, spooky lawn decorations, little ghouls running around the neighborhood.  

Did a spell block you from seeing this image? Click 'Enable images' on your browser to reverse it!

It would be far-fetched to say that most of that money was spent on candy. But according to the National Retail Federation, 95% of Americans will buy candy on Halloween. Who would want to be the neighbor who didn't have candy for the trick-or-treaters, right?

And speaking of trick-or-treating, a group of parents is petitioning for Halloween to be moved to the nearest Saturday, so kids won't go asking around for candy on a school night! 

Two roads converge

Old doesn't necessarily mean "gone", and new isn't always "better". Halloween may be the more mainstream holiday, but those devoted to tradition stick with the original meaning and practices of Samhain. 

Wiccans, witches, and some pagans still light bonfires, host dumb suppers, or hold rituals to honor their ancestors. Like the Celts, they observe Samhain as a time of endings and beginnings and welcome the start of the new year.

But this doesn't mean that one is better than the other, or that you're not allowed to celebrate both. In fact, you're welcome to do so if you want. You can get in on the candy and costume craze on Halloween, and also perform a solemn ritual before the night ends.

Did a spell block you from seeing this image? Click 'Enable images' on your browser to reverse it!

A better Halloween for witches?

Many witches have mixed feelings about Halloween because of how witchcraft is misrepresented. On this day, they say, witches are portrayed as evil, warty hags either huddled around a bubbly cauldron or zooming around atop their broomsticks. 

 

Then again, some would say that - stark as it may sound - that has always been the way witches are represented. The image of the evil witch goes back to the Witch Trials and has been immortalized in movies and TV shows. 

But that's not always the case. There's been a wave of accurate depictions of witches and witchcraft in recent times. Many young people are now turning to Wicca and/or witchcraft. They and a lot of other people are becoming the voices of change. When these voices grow loud enough, who knows? Maybe there will come a year that witches will be represented on Halloween for what they truly are - wise, wonderful, and truly bewitching!

Did a spell block you from seeing this image? Click 'Enable images' on your browser to reverse it!


3 Responses

Jacqueline Walter
Jacqueline Walter

October 30, 2020

Very interesting information on this article. Really liked it.

Andrea
Andrea

October 30, 2020

Thank you for the article; it is wonderful. Have a better understanding of the holiday now

debbe
debbe

October 30, 2020

Always love to read your blog. As a solitary person trying to learn the world of Wiccan and witchcraft the blogs are insightful.

Leave a comment

Comments will be approved before showing up.


Also in News

This Is How To Make Meteor Showers More Magickal
This Is How To Make Meteor Showers More Magickal

Meteor showers are one of the cosmos' greatest gifts to us humans. How do you make a meteor shower all the more magickal?

Read More

How to Use the Wheel of the Year
How to Use the Wheel of the Year

1 Comment

Learning about the Wheel of the Year is important if you are serious about your spiritual journey. When you observe the Sabbats, not only will you be an expert at correspondences. You will also be more connected to nature in a sublime and deeply meaningful way. But how do you go about celebrating the Sabbats? 

Read More

What Does Samhain Teach Us?
What Does Samhain Teach Us?

1 Comment

Read More