Is Halloween Closely Related to Samhain?

Ravenna Angelline

Taryn Hill, Staff Writer

We are all familiar with Halloween and the spooky stories that follow it. For example, a lot of Halloween stories start with “On Hallow’s Eve,” or “On a spooky night just like this one..,” But, did you know about the Wicca religion’s version of Halloween called Samhain? Most people don’t.

Samhain comes from the Gaelic word, “Samhuin,” meaning summer’s end. Being one out of the eight Celtic festivals pagans celebrate in the course of a single year, people often think of these “sabbats” as closely related to modern-day Easter, Christmas, Halloween, Thanksgiving, and so on. Sabbats are basically what you would consider your average holidays.

Samhain is celebrated on October 31st, and ends on November 1st, but Depending on their location and environment, pagans celebrate Samhain at different times and in different ways. Depending on the pagan, they will wait until the nearest weekend of a full moon to hold ceremonies. Samhain is said to be a festival celebrated by the ancient Celts, or ancient Celtics, that marks the beginning of winter.

Samhain is considered the “Season of Death and Renewal.” ”

— Taryn Hill

Samhain is considered the “Season of Death and Renewal.” It is a time when the ancestors are honored, divinations for the new year are performed, and festivals are held in honor of the gods. 

Many people often believe Halloween is the time when the spirits cross over from their world into this one, but many pagans also believe that about Samhain, so many believe Samhain and Halloween are closely related.

Common rituals of Samhain can either be performed privately or with a group of others. Whether or not it is performed privately depends on the practitioner or performer. Many of these rituals involve the making of an altar table with objects that closely relate to a specific ceremony. For example: when honoring one’s ancestors, one might have family pictures and/or family heirlooms, something precious to their family.

Other rituals include bonfires, divinations or tarot card readings, reflecting on the past year, meditative nature walks, commemorating the dead with a cemetery visit, telling ancestors’ stories, and preparing a feast of the dead at a place that is set for the one who is deceased. At feasts, everyone at the table is to give an offering of food and place it on the plate of the deceased.

While Samhain is mainly about honoring those who have fallen, there are also celebrations that take place. For instance, Circle Sanctuary is a witch’s ball where people dress up as any version of witch known to man.

To test people’s knowledge about Samhain, I interviewed a handful of students at GCHS.

“I think it’s a Wiccan Holiday of Halloween,” said Paige Snook, a fellow Junior. She’s on the right track, but what most people don’t know is that Halloween actually branched off of Samhain.

Compared to the popularity of Halloween, not many people know what Samhain is. The Wicca religion has not been a religion for people to pay attention to, nor does everyone care to learn about it.

So, what is the difference between Samhain and Halloween? To sum it all up, Halloween is a secular folk holiday, whereas Samhain is a religious festival honoring the dead. Halloween is public for anyone to celebrate, while Samhain’s rituals are somber and done privately.