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Samhain Celebrations: Dumb Suppers, Samhain Parties, and More

Updated on October 14, 2013
kittythedreamer profile image

Kitty has extensively studied the history, traditions, and celebration of modern holidays. She also studies and celebrates pagan sabbats.


Celebrating Samhain

Samhain. All Soul's Night. All Hallows Eve. Hallowe'en. The night has many names and many disguises, but one thing is for comes every year. The end of Summer, the ending of the bountiful harvest. Now is the time to celebrate Samhain in style!

Perhaps you're planning on a Samhain ritual with your circle, or maybe you're planning on performing a solitary ritual. Add some flaming-hot fun to your Samhain this year and throw a Samhain party. Or if you're more of a traditional Pagan, why not put on a dumb supper for you and your friends/family?

Let's discover some clever and fun ways of celebrating Samhain that incorporates ancient traditions with modern day merriment.

Samhain Stew Ingredients
Samhain Stew Ingredients | Source
Dumb suppers honor our ancestors
Dumb suppers honor our ancestors | Source

Observe a Samhain Dumb Supper:

Have a Dumb Supper

A very traditional way of celebrating Samhain is to have a dumb supper. And no, I'm not talking about eating a meal that is stupid. I am talking about "dumb" in the traditional sense of the word...meaning "unable to speak". Dumb suppers are literally that - a supper during which no one speaks in order to honor their departed loved ones and ancestors. Another reason that no one speaks is to sort of give the departed souls who visit a chance to communicate more easily.

Of course having a dumb supper for Samhain is much easier with less people, but inviting more people to your dumb supper might be more fun and bring a more vibrant energy to the night. Send invitations to your guests, inviting their ancestors along with them to your Samhain dumb supper. Encourage them to wear comfortable clothes and perhaps even bring a dish (if you don't want to prepare the entire Samhain meal).

The dishes on the table should be black, if you can get all black tableware. If not, white should be just fine too. The dumb supper is usually eaten in silence...but also by candlelight. So make sure to set out enough candles so that your guests will be able to see their plates and walk around the room if need be.

As for the food at your dumb supper, it is totally up to you. If you want to stay as traditional as possible, choose some type of game meat for the entrée with harvest vegetables and/or fruits. A Samhain stew is a warm and comforting meal that anyone is sure to love. Also making traditional Samhain soul cakes is a nice touch to any Samhain meal.

Before beginning the dumb supper, reinforce to your group/guests what the dumb supper is all about, why we are silent, and who we are honoring. Before the first sip of wine and before the first nibble of food, everyone should be speaking. To watch a real Samhain dumb supper, check out the video to the right.


Throwing Samhain Parties for Kids & Adults

Since Samhain is the original Halloween, why not throw a Samhain party for your friends or family? Depending on who in your family is open-minded and/or Pagan, you can be as open about the ideals behind the party as you'd like to be...or simply call it a "Harvest" party if you want to keep it open for everyone.

Start with the decorations. These should be fairly simple especially if you already decorate your home to celebrate the seasons. All things that remind you of the Harvest can be included in your decorations - corn husks/stalks, bails of hay, scarecrows, wheat, pumpkins, gourds, and baskets. Even Halloween decorations can be used as Samhain decorations, if indeed you'd like to incorporate the Americanized version of the holiday...pretty much everyone enjoys a spooky or creative Halloween atmosphere! This year I'm going with a Haunted Mansion themed party with white sheets draped over the furniture, cobwebs strung around pictures, and bleeding candles.

One of the most fun things to do at a family Samhain party is to get everyone involved in pumpkin carving. Have everyone bring their own pumpkins, and you can supply the carving materials. Put out a couple picnic tables in the yard, cover them in newspaper, and let everyone go to town on their Jack o' lanterns. This is something that our Celtic ancestors did hundreds of years ago (the only difference is that they carved turnips instead of pumpkins).

As for food, you can do it the easy way and ask everyone to bring a creepy dish. Or go traditional and serve Halloween foods such as candied apples, apple cake, hot apple cider, pumpkin soup and/or pie, various kinds of nuts, or Colcannon. Colcannon was a traditional Irish food made up of cabbage, potatoes, onion and various spices.

Have a Low-Key Samhain

If you're unable to throw a Samhain party for your friends and family, and if you don't have the aptitude to put on a dumb supper, Samhain can still be celebrated to its fullest...just in a more low-key format. There are a few traditions that I hold every Samhain:

  • Visit a loved one's grave
  • Set up an ancestor altar

These are both things that almost anyone can do to celebrate Samhain and honor our loved ones and ancestors who have passed before us.

If you want to try something different this Samhain, celebrate the Mexican version which is known as the Day of the Dead (a.k.a. Dia de los Muertos). Make and decorate your own sugar skulls, leave bright flowers at a nearby grave, even dress up as a skeleton. The Day of the Dead is a day that is extremely important to many Mexicans and intertwines Catholicism with older pagan ways...celebrate and have fun!

Written and copyright © by Kitty the Dreamer (May Canfield), 2012. All Rights Reserved.


Submit a Comment

  • kittythedreamer profile image

    Nicole Canfield 4 years ago from the Ether


  • WiccanSage profile image

    Mackenzie Sage Wright 4 years ago

    Great ideas!

  • OldWitchcraft profile image

    OldWitchcraft 5 years ago from The Atmosphere

    Great hub!


    You can do a dumb supper alone. It can be very simple. The main reason you go about the procedure silently is to allow the spirits the opportunity to speak. You should, also, do whatever you would normally do in reverse and with the opposite hand. It keeps your mind focused on your purpose and setting the table is clearly an invitation to guests.

    Accolades and a vote up!

  • Nell Rose profile image

    Nell Rose 5 years ago from England

    I agree on the no notifications! driving me mad! these are great ideas, and no dumb ones! lol! sorry couldn't resist! seriously though great ideas and even if we are on our own lighting a candle, or altar is good too, but much better to celebrate with others, great stuff! nell

  • kittythedreamer profile image

    Nicole Canfield 5 years ago from the Ether

    rich - You're too kind, as always! You're right, the dumb supper would most definitely have to include only those who have a passion for it and a full understanding of the purpose. Otherwise it might just be made into a mockery. Yes, Loreena is one of my favorites of all time! Thanks again. :)

  • rcrumple profile image

    Rich 5 years ago from Kentucky

    Kitty - Hubpages is at it again. No email notification received when you release a hub. Grrrr! Anyway, this is extremely interesting. Not previously familiar in the least with the "dumb supper" ritual. Sounds interesting, but would entail having those as involved in the same thought process. Others could, and probably would, simply make a mockery of it. Nice addition with Loreena McKennitt's video. Loved her since "The Mummer's Dance." Great Job!

  • Nupteiron Stulker profile image

    Brad S. Muffley 5 years ago from fredericksburg VA

    this was very fun to read, kitty, and very informative too... it gave me some ideas for this years halloween party... if we have one considering my family and I just moved and i have not made any friends yet... and about the Dumb Supper... well that'd be easy for me because i was raised to not talk while eating... it is the polite thing to do in my mind... anyway, great hub, kitty, keep 'em coming...