Trick or Treat! Happy Halloween… The stories and traditions linked with this day!

Samhain (pronounced ‘sow’inn and means End of Summer) is held on October 31, the Christian eve of All Saints Day, and is the last of the three harvest festivals for pagans. The festival is celebrated in the northern hemisphere on November 1 but the festivities begin on the night of October 31 as in Celtic tradition the day began and ended with the setting of the sun.
The festival marks the beginning of winter and is celebrated as the day of the dead. From the Neolithic Age, tombs were found which were constructed in such a way that at the sunrise of Samhain, light could illuminate their interior. This pagan tradition survived and was adopted by Christianity on All Saints’ Day when bells also toll to accompany the dead on their afterlife journey.
The first representations of Samhain in Irish literature show the end of the harvest, the gathering of families and tribes to survive during the winter. Samhain night was considered to be a dangerous night as the veil between the two worlds became thinner and fairies or spirits could return from the spirit world to the earth. For this reason, people wore animal skins and masks to disguise themselves so that evil spirits would not recognize and harm them. Also, Samhain was the time when pagans sacrificed animals to preserve them for the winter.
On the day of Samhain, the fire in the hearth burned all day and at night they lit very large bonfires to ward off the evil as the fire was considered purgative and protective. They often lit two large bonfires where animals and humans had to pass through them, as a purification ritual. The bones of the slaughtered animals were put in the big bonfire that burned in the village or the community. The hearths were then put out and re-lit using fire from the large bonfire of the village.
Today the fires are still burning at night in Samhain. In countries with a Celtic and pagan tradition, such as Scotland, we still see people disguising themselves and holding torches and drums, celebrating this pagan sabbath of the dead. In the past, they used to dress as animals or ghosts, and now the celebration has evolved into a carnival with a darker connotation. Samhain was gradually replaced by Halloween.
Initially, the boys disguised themselves and were going from house to house asking for firewood. To light their way, they carved turnips as lanterns. Turnips were replaced by pumpkin carvings and the disguised boys asking for firewood were replaced by children knocking on their neighbours’ doors to ask for a trick or treat.
For the pagans and witches who still celebrate Samhain, it is a celebration where they honour the dead and often at Samhain dinners offer food to the dead, which was forbidden to eat by the living – although they often shared it with the poor. It is the day that people made -and they still make- the so-called soul cakes which were also offered to the poor. It is also the time when the new-borns were introduced to the community. In other words, it is a celebration where the old and the new coexist and celebrate together.
It is also the time when people think about what needs to be finished, completed, what has come about. It is a moment of hope for what the new year will bring.
For many witches, Samhain is considered their New Year, although for some others their New Year is Yule, the last sabbath which is celebrated at the winter solstice. Samhain or Halloween is a very vigorous night for wizards and witches and is the perfect time for divination spells, refreshing spells (especially for healing spells for those suffering from chronic diseases), and rituals or blessings that help to replenish both energy as well as money.
It is no coincidence that the spells of fortune and prosperity are very potent on the night of Samhain as people focus their energy on their survival and their luck for the winter. Last but not least, all fire spells are suitable, also known as candle magic.
info: Imaginarium World –
Written by: Anastacia ChatNoir