Halloween and Samhain

Halloween and Samhain

Samhain (pronounced sow’ain) is the precursor to today’s Halloween, an ancient Celtic festival honouring the ancestors that came before us.
31 October 2019

At the end of the working day in the Weleda gardens today we’ll be marking Samhain - the end of the harvest season and the beginning of winter. Samhain (pronounced 'sow-in') is Gaelic for ‘summer’s end’. This festival was a key date in the ancient Celtic calendar, to remember and honour the dead and departed. Whilst the festival was a celebration, it was also a moment of poignant reflection. 

Samhain was considered to be the time of year when the veils between this world and the Otherworld were at their thinnest: when the spirits of the dead could potentially mingle with the living once again. The date was later adopted by the Christian church and celebrated as All Hallows’ Eve. Samhain was celebrated with traditional games such as apple bobbing, the wearing of costumes, the carving of jack-o-lanterns, the sharing of autumn foods and the building of bonfires - and many of these traditions endure today for Halloween.

In the Weleda gardens, Samhain is the time we say goodbye to our seasonal gardeners as it’s officially the end of the gardening season. We aim to have all our biodynamic field sprays done and all our compost heaps made by the end of October, as Samhain marks the earth’s turning point into winter. It’s time to start cleaning the seeds we’ve collected and start making all our plans for next year. And, crucially, it’s time for the garden (and gardeners) to rest, reflect, consolidate and plan for the future. 

Five ways to celebrate Samhain

  1. Appreciate nature - Take a meditative walk in a natural area near your home. Observe and contemplate the colours, aromas, sounds, and other sensations of the season,and enjoy the autumnal landscape.

  2. Honour the dead - Another way to honour the passing of family and friends is to visit and tend their gravesite at a cemetery. Call to mind memories and consider ways your loved one continues to live on within you. 

  3. Bonfire magic - Lighting a bonfire is one of the most honoured Samhain traditions. Write down a bad habit that you wish to end on a piece of paper and cast it into the flames as you imagine release.

  4. Take a spiritual cleansing bath - Samhain is a great time to take a purifying bath. Run a bath adding a bath milk of your choice and light a few candles. As you step into the bath, let go of any negative events that may have happened during the past year. As you soak, focus on all the positive things in your life and let go of the negative.

  5. Herbs and spices - There are many plants that are traditionally associated with Samhain   such as allspice berries, broom, catnip, mountain ash berries, mugwort, mullein, oak leaves, acorns, rosemary, sage, pine cones, and straw. Try adding them to your foods as you cook (just make sure they are suitable to eat) or use them to decorate your home.