Samhain (pronounced SOW-in, SAH-vin, or SAM-hayne) means literally summer’s end, and is a festival holiday that is usually celebrated by pagans. This holiday also has many names such as Calan Gaeaf, Nos Cyn Calan Gaual, Oie Houney, Feast of Mongfind, Feast of the Dead, Third Harvest, The Witches’ New Year, and Celtic New Year. This festival holiday celebrates the Sabbath, and is also a time to pay your respects to your ancestors, and people that have moved on. This holiday is celebrated on the 31st of October to November 1st, but this time can actually be changed, or different depending on your spiritual tradition. This can make Samhain to some, a longer period of time in which will extend over multiple days, and may even go into early November. This is also the third and final Harvest of the year in which is the last time to get everything in before winter. During this time people will celebrate by doing rituals, honoring their ancestors, and throwing parties.
This holiday was also taken up by early Christians, and changed into All Saints’ Day, or All Hallows Eve to show respect for Christian saints, and martyrs during the same time as Samhain was being celebrated. Along with All Souls’ Day which is celebrated to remember the souls of the dead following the days of All Saints’ Day, or All Hallows Eve. These holidays would eventually turn into Halloween. Though Halloween got its roots from Samhain, they’re now quite different, and unique holidays from one another. Where Halloween has become a more family oriented holiday in which is more based on self expression of scary things with certain traditions, and customs depending on where you live such as trick-or-treating, and pumpkin carving. Where Samhain is more of a religious, and spiritual celebration of the dead, your ancestors, and loved ones that have passed on along with the celebration of the Sabbath, and the coming of the colder months.
There are thousands of ways that people can celebrate the holiday Samhain, but it primarily depends on your tradition, and culture. People might even make altars, light bonfires, have large feast, spend time with family, reflect on the past, or even visit burial grounds. It all really depends on you, and your tradition, and how you have come to celebrate the holiday. The Samhain season is also a good time for focusing on reflection, change, growth, endings, new beginnings, and is a time for more dark related things. It is a time of year where the energy is closer to us, and the veil is thinner making it a good time to contact the spirit world. This is also the most popular time of year for new occultist, witches, and practitioners to start practicing their craft. It is also a time where the masculine energy is slowly subsideing from the world before it returns later this spring in the holiday of Beltane. It is a very powerful time of the year for a lot of cultures, and traditions around the world, and is something worth celebrating, and honoring in your life, if you choose too.