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The history behind Halloween

The day that we think of as Halloween actually derives from Celtic paganism and the feast of Samhain. Pagans believed it was the time when ghosts and spirits came back to earth, and the Celts would appease the spirits by giving them treats.

In late October and early November, Pagans from all around the world celebrate Samhain, pronouced sah-win or sow-in - it simply means "Summer's End."

Here are a few facts:

1. Samhain is celebrated from sunset on October 31 to sunset on November 1, this is halfway between the autumn equinox and the winter solstice.

2. It is considered as “witches new year” and the end of the harvest season.

3. Rituals performed at Samhain include bonfires, feasting and building altars to honour dead relatives.

4. Samhain is one of eight annual festivals in the Pagan calendar along with Yule, Imbolc, Ostara, Beltane, Midsummer, Lughnassad and Mabon.

6. It’s a time when the veil between life and death grows thin. Food is set aside for ancestors and protective spirits and rituals honouring the dead take place.

5. Some of Halloween’s most common traditions come from Samhain’s harvest festival roots, such as the carving of pumpkins and bobbing for apples.

6. Goddesses associated with Samhain are: Babd, Banba, Callieach, Derga, Hecate, Hel, Inanna, Ishta, Kali, Morrigan, Rhiannon.

7. Gods: Arawn, Belenus, Dagda, Hades, Loki, Odin, Pluto.

8. Colours: Black and orange.


9. Stones: Jet and Obsidian.

10. Trees: Apple, beech, blackthorn, locust, pomegranate, willow, witch hazel, yew.

11. Animals: Bat, boar, cat, cow, dog.

12. Herbs: Acorn, angelica, broom, catnip, deadly nightshade, dittany, hazel, heather, mandrake, mugwort, oak leaves, sage, straw and wormwood.

Whether your family celebrate with a little bit of pumpkin carving, trick or treating, dressing up or going to parties. Enjoy yourselves. I have a few friends who don't celebrate Halloween - each for their own reasons but I actually find it all quite fascinating and enjoy the process of decorating, pumpkin carvings and dressing up for fun.

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