Samhain Celebrations: Dumb Suppers, Samhain Parties, and More
Samhain. All Soul's Night. All Hallows Eve. Hallowe'en. The night has many names and many disguises, but one thing is for sure...it 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.
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 quiet...no speaking. To watch a real Samhain dumb supper, check out the video to the right.
- Simple Samhain Rituals and Traditions for Solitary P...
If you are Pagan and plan on partaking in the Samhain festivities with a group or circle of like-minded folks, blessed be to you. Many of us, however, do not have the privilege of celebrating Samhain with a group or circle, so we have to find Samhain
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.