Samhain is upon us. Samhain marks the midpoint between the fall equinox and winter solstice. It is the third and final harvest festival, a time to welcome the darkness and remember ancestors. Samhain (pronunced “Sow-in”) is the Celtic roots of Halloween. About 2000 years ago, it was celebrated in Ireland, Wales and Scotland. In the Celtic calendar, Samhain is the New Year. It marks the end of summer, the brighter half of the year, and the beginning of winter, the darker half of the year. At that time, the festivities took place from October 31st after sunset until November 1st in the morning. It was celebrated in large gatherings with bonfires, contests and feasts all around the country. In addition, people believed that during Samhain’s Eve, the veil between the worlds was thinner, allowing the deceased to walk among the living. It was customary to honor those who died in the past year and to do divination for the year to come.
Sacred Bonfires: The name “bonfire” comes from “bones”. At Samhain, cattle and other livestock were slaughtered in a ritualistic way for eating during winter. Then, their bones were thrown into the fire as offerings. The people also wrote their names on rocks and thrown them into the fire. The next day, the stones were retrieved, and divination was made according to their state.
Bobbing for Apples: Have you heard about the Halloween game of bobbing for apples? You’ll be surprised to know that it also has Celtic origins. However, at first, it was used for divination.
"[The apples] are thrown into a tub of water, and you endeavor to catch one in your mouth as they bob round and round in provoking fashion. When you have caught one, you peel it carefully, and pass the long strip of peel thrice, sunwise, round your head; after which you throw it over your shoulder, and it falls to the ground in the shape of the initial letter of your true love’s name." ~ W. H. Davenport Adams