It's that time of year again! Samhain (AKA Halloween) has got to be the most fun-filled, strangely spectacular celebration of the entire year! From ghosts and ghouls to black cats and scary masks, this Celtic Pagan festival is celebrated across the world and grows in popularity with every year! But where did these fantastically quirky customs and costumes come from? Here are some modern Samhain/ Halloween customs that have their roots further back than you may think!
Costumes, Masks & Parties
Samhain traditionally is the point during the year when the veil between the physical world and the spirit world is at its thinnest. For the ancient Celtic Pagans, this meant that the spirits of departed loved ones could come back and visit those still living. However, this also meant that disgruntled, evil or malicious spirits could come back too! To ward off evil spirits or disguise themselves from them, ancient Celtic Pagans would paint scary black masks on their faces using ash from the sacred bonfire and wear costumes to disguise themselves. Also, as they believed that their deceased loved ones could visit during Samhain, Celtic Pagans would have a feast to honour the dead and would leave out food in honour of them!
Again, this one goes all the way back to the Celts, when they would have sacred bonfires to ward off the evil spirits and bad luck for the coming year. They would light fires at home using embers from the sacred bonfire for good luck. They also believed that the sacred fire encouraged premonitions.
If you grew up in an Irish household, you’ll know that many an argument has been had over the rings that were baked into these Halloween fruitcakes. Traditionally though, barmbracks actually had multiple items baked into them which formed a sort of food fortune-telling game. Aside from rings, people would bake other items in to them, such as coins, buttons or bits of rags. The idea was that the item you found in a barmbrack would predict your fortune. If you found a coin in your barmbrack it foretold of money coming to you, a ring foretold of love, a button meant bachelorhood or spinsterhood and a rag foretold of poverty.
Bobbing for Apples
Nowadays its just an old favourite Halloween game for the kids. Traditionally though, this was a way for young people to predict their romantic futures, i.e. if you managed to bite the apple you’d get married, if not, you’d stay single.
So, there you have it, some Halloween-themed trivia to share at your party!
Happy Samhain Everybody!