By Meg Owens
“All Hallow’s Eve,” the original name of Halloween, is a holiday traditionally observed by Celts. Seasonal attributes have always inspired various cultures to assign significance to this time of year. Specifically, a tradition derived from this is Samhain. Also known as “The Witch’s New Year.” Samhain is celebrated from the sunset of October 31st through the sunset of November 1st. In acknowledgement of the end of the harvest season, several witches participate in rituals consisting of bonfires, healing, dancing, and honoring the dead.
The annual festival is supposedly named after Samhain, the Lord of Darkness, yet his rank in deity is up to interpretation. He thrives in shadows and gains the ability to roam the Earth whenever the veil between life and death grows thin. Considering the nights grow longer during the winter season, this is when Samhain would hold the most power and influence amongst earthly beings. The Druids, who were a group of ancient religious leaders, have been said to believe that on the night of October 31st, those who had passed away within the last year would roam the physical world and search for a passage to the “netherworld.” During this vulnerable time period Samhain would seek these souls and lure them into his realm of immorality. However, none of this information is certain, considering that nothing from the Druids was documented due to their notoriously secretive nature. If it was, it’s mostly lost or destroyed. Druidic people had to memorize everything and learn by word of mouth. With that, it is also possible that information has been lost or manipulated due to miscommunication.
To this day, Wiccans, Eclectics, and other Pagan sects celebrate Samhain. However, it is important to realize that many religions and cultures possess their own variants to this holiday. Whether it be a ritual, the baking of a traditional bread, or even dressing up in costumes and travelling door to door asking for candy, this season usually holds meaning to those who choose to recognize it.