From Samhain to Halloween

From Samhain to Halloween

Having discussed the meaning and traditions of Halloween in previous years, I thought I would take a closer look at how the Pagan festival of Samhain actually became Halloween. Let’s begin with a short recap of what this festival is all about.

From Samhain to HalloweenThe Meaning of Samhain

An important date in the Celtic calendar, Samhain marked not only the end of the harvest, it also marked the start of Winter and the Celtic New Year (November the 1st). A time to reap and store crops; move livestock to pastures closer to home and ensure animals were secured for the onset of Winter, Samhain marked both end and beginning of life’s eternal cycle.

Honouring the Departed

The night of October 31st was also believed to be a time when the veil that separates the world of the living from the spirit realm is at its thinnest.

Tradition had it that during this night, the spirits of people who had passed away in the last 12 months mingled with the living before making their final journey into the ‘otherworld’. All kinds of demons and fairies; ghosts and other beings said to belong to the ‘dread and dark’ were believed to be roaming among the living during this night.

To keep these beings safely away from the living; honour the dead and assist them in making the journey into the so-called ‘afterlife’, people would gather to light bonfires (sometimes wearing costumes and/or masks) and sacrifice vegetables, fruits and occasionally animals.

The Spread of Christianity

During the first millennium’s early centuries, the spread of Christianity meant that native and Pagan customs and beliefs were deemed as ‘of the devil’ and subsequently evil. In 601 AD, however, Pope Gregory I realised that trying to obliterate these customs/beliefs would meet with a great deal of resistance, so he instructed his Catholic missionaries to use them, rather than trying to ban them.

This ‘ingenious’ idea subsequently led to many traditional ‘holy days’ and festivals being renamed into Christian festivals. The Pagan Midwinter celebration of Yule (25th of December) became Christmas; Ostara, the fertility rites of Spring became Easter, and Midsummer Day (Summer Solstice) became St John’s Day.

From Samhain to Halloween2The Beginning of Halloween

During the 8th Century, November the 1st was, in the course of this ‘Christian fashion’ of hi-jacking traditional festivals to suit the church’s purpose, renamed into ‘All Saint’s Day’. Designated to be a day when all saints were honoured, the day was often called ‘All Hallows Day’ (hallows being another word for saints). October 31st subsequently became ‘All Hallows’ Eve’, a name that was later contracted into what we now know as Halloween.

As this move did very little to subdue Samhain’s powerful symbolism with regards to the ‘travelling dead’, ‘All Soul’s Day’ (2nd of November), a day to remember and pray for the souls of those who had passed away was introduced in the 9th Century (again sustaining traditional customs, as opposed to redefining them).

Halloween Today

While the true meaning of Samhain may have been lost to most over time, many of the old traditions remain, including those of communication with ancestors and divination (in particular concerning questions of love and relationships).

Although this night is still said to be on the threshold between the spirit realm and our own world, we, my team and I, do not need to wait for Halloween to give you honest, helpful advice and answers concerning your love life.

As experienced psychics, we can assist you at any time of the year, so if you have questions you need answering, give my psychic team a call today.

To get a reading from a member of my team, the number to call for UK callers is 0800 999 8831. From elsewhere, please dial one of the following numbers: Australia 1800 018 367, Canada 1866 766 9422, USA 1855 864 9383, Ireland 015 060 693, rest of the world +44 207 111 6115.

Tony Hyland