- Holidays and Celebrations
Halloween or New Year's Eve
Happy New Year
The end of October is known as Samhain. Samhain is the beginning of the Celtic year or the start of the New Year; some celebrate it as the pagan New Year’s Eve. Samhain is the period of the third and last harvest of the season.
It used to be the time when cattle were slaughtered and their meat smoked or salted for winter, as the people needed to ensure their food supply against a long, dark and cold winter.
This was a time without corner stores and supermarkets, refrigerators, television or any electrical appliances. Nights were dark and the night sky was the playground for comets, planets and stars.
This was a time when druids as well as bards walked the land. The bard may have been a member of a druidic order and charged with memorizing the tales that informed about their faith.
This is the season when the veil between the worlds was the thinnest and the dead could travel between.
Many families would set an extra place at the table for an honoured relative and many donned costumes so that the King of the Dead could not recognize them and force them to follow him back into his dark realm. This is where our present tradition of donning a Halloween costume evolves.
The wearing of costumes to transform our appearance is not the only custom that was adopted by the modern day Halloween celebrations. Pumpkins and apples were also an important part of the ancient celebrations.
Bobbing for apples has ancient roots.
The Romans when they conquered Britain introduced the apple tree. For the Romans apple represented the goddess Pomona, the goddess of fruit trees. Pomona was a great beauty and consider to be very fertile.
The Romans came as conquerors but in time began to adopt the Celtic customs, beliefs. The Samhain festival was one that began to play a role in Roman celebrations.
The apple, thus, became part of the harvest celebration which eventually became Halloween.
Pomona was a fertility goddess. The Celts believed that the pentagram was a fertility symbol. When you slice an apple in half the seeds form a pentagram. Therefore, the belief the apple could be used to determine marriages during this magical time of year developed
It was from this belief that an apple could determine marriages that bobbing for apples grew. Young unmarried people would attempt to bite into an apple floating in water or hanging from a string. The first one to accomplish this would be the next one to marry.
Even if you reject this ability of the apple to predict marriage the apple need serve to bring people together from distant farms and villages. These people may otherwise have never had contact with others outside their own families.
This was a time when many did not survive childhood and many women died in childbirth. No children meant no lineage and no cheap labour supply so they coming together of villages served as widening the pool of eligible marriage partners and thus the apple deserves some credit.
Today bobbing for apples is a game.
Modern druids accept Samhain as the beginning of a new year: a time when The Wheel of Life turns and a time to honour our ancestors, to look ahead. It is also a time for reflection when we consider the path we are walking and to look back and see where we have been.
Halloween has ancient roots and many of its activities are rooted in ancient Celtic and other beliefs. Think of it as a time for reflection of where you have been and where you are going and a time to honour those who walked the path before you.
The Druid Path
- Wiccan Festivals
Wiccan seasons and festivals through the year
- DRUID FESTIVALS
At the heart of Druidism lies a love of Nature and of her changing faces as the seasons turn. Eight times a year, once every six weeks or so, Druids participate in a celebration that expresses this love.