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Halloween or New Year's Eve

Updated on October 20, 2011

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

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  • profile image

    landi 7 years ago

    hallowen and new year are the best festivals of the year

  • Bob Ewing profile image

    Bob Ewing 9 years ago from New Brunswick

    You are welcome and thanks for reading.

  • Dottie1 profile image

    Dottie1 9 years ago from MA, USA

    Such a very interesting hub and so much to learn. Thanks.

  • Bob Ewing profile image

    Bob Ewing 9 years ago from New Brunswick

    The candy is a bonus.:)

  • Chef Jeff profile image

    Chef Jeff 9 years ago from Universe, Milky Way, Outer Arm, Sol, Earth, Western Hemisphere, North America, Illinois, Chicago.

    Actually hallowe'en is a time when I spend long hours remembering people I knew who have passed on. Many died when I was younger, but enough have passed on recently to make me want to instill this reflection in my children.

    P.S. I also like the candy! LOL!!!

  • Bob Ewing profile image

    Bob Ewing 9 years ago from New Brunswick


  • mistyhorizon2003 profile image

    Cindy Lawson 9 years ago from Guernsey (Channel Islands)

    Excellent Hub :)

  • Bob Ewing profile image

    Bob Ewing 9 years ago from New Brunswick

    Thanks jim for stopping by.

  • jim10 profile image

    jim10 9 years ago from ma

    I always celebrated my birthday near Halloween and would often times have a costume party. I never really thought about it but, my mother always had us playing great games like bobbing for apples. I guess it made perfect sense.

  • Bob Ewing profile image

    Bob Ewing 9 years ago from New Brunswick

    Thanks, some years back i did an installation piece that involved bobbing for apples; it was for a Samhain event and that is how I found out about the history.

  • Judy Cullins profile image

    Judy Cullins 9 years ago from La Mesa, CA

    Anaother fine hub. Bobbing for apples-what an origin. From this I wonder if we'll go back to no corner store or big store with the future financial chaos coming.

    Judy Cullins

  • gwendymom profile image

    gwendymom 9 years ago from Oklahoma

    This is so great and very informative. I had no idea about the origin of the bobbing for apples games. Great Work!