Archive | October 10, 2012

Trick or Treating is a Samhuinn tradition

Samhain is a Celtic holiday or specifically in Scotland Oidche Shamhna in old Gaelic. (Now, the word for night is Oiche.) I love reading all the posts about it but some of them crack me up. They get all up in the nose about Halloween and trick or treating and that it isn’t the way it was celebrated. WRONG! Some people need to read their history. What are they trying to be the equivalent of Pagan Puritans?

Part of Samhain, (which literally means end of summer in Gaelic and does not represent the non-existent Lord Samhain someone has made up. ) was going in disguise to the neighbors and demanding a toll, usually an apple or nuts. People propitiated the villains by feeding them and sending them on their way because who knows it could have been one of your ancestors or one of the Fae and after they had entertained the household in some way . If the veils are thin then you don’t want to be rude to the wrong person, do you?

If your ancestor has come through the veil to visit wouldn’t you offer them space at your table?

So, demanding protection loot has been a part of the holiday for a very long time. And was their way before the Christians co-opted the holiday. It was a matter of hospitality and one of the values of the Gaels.

This was the third harvesting and anything left in the fields after the holiday was celebrated belonged to the Fae and could not be gleaned. This was also when the last of the livestock was killed so they didn’t have to feed the whole herd all winter. It is the harvest of the root vegetables. The better to carve that turnip into a lantern?

This was the time for storytelling around the fire. Storytelling during summer was allegedly forbidden. Stories were for winter.

So those of you who think fun and trick or treating wasn’t part of the holiday, you would be wrong. So have fun and go entertain the neighbors, tell stories and do divination. Celebrate your final harvest of the year. Honour your ancestors and the Fae, they may be one and the same. Celebrate a truly pre-Christian Holyday with a big bone or bonfire. (The bone referred to cattle bones that were killed before winter, not human.)

And you might want to download, (It’s free) The Fairy Faith in Celtic Countries by Walter Evans-Wentz or check out a 4 volume set of the Silver Bough by F. Marian McNeill.