Celtic festival of the dead, Samhain

Kiralynn Edmondson

In present day America we celebrate Halloween with parties and costumes, these American festivities can be linked back to an ancient celebration of the Celtic Lord of the Dead, Samhain.

Samhain is an ancient Celtic god that was celebrated at the end of summer, and at the start of a new year.

The end of summer is celebrated on Nov. 1 because it was known as the time of year when the dark arrives earlier. On this night the Celts believed Samhain returned to earth to re-assemble all deceased lost souls and resentence their death.

The lost souls were dead ancestors of the Celts. And to the Celts this night was the one night a year that the Celts felt a connection with the supernatural.

By re-sentencing the souls’ death Samhain would send the sinful souls of the dead back to the afterlife in the form of an inferior animal.

The good souls of the dead were sentenced to an additional twelve months back to the afterlife in the form of human beings.

The Celts believed that Samhain would be more temperate on this night if the people gave him gifts.

They would set food and wine outside their house in hopes that Samhain would send their ancestors home for one night.

Some Celtic villagers dressed in ghostly disguises on this night to blend in with the wandering spirits of the dead.

They tried to play tricks in their masks by parading in attempt to lead the spirits to the town limits.

If the Celts believed the souls would rather a friendly persuasion, they would offer gifts or sweets to them.

“Samhain should still send home the lost spirits on Halloween night, then we can dance with the dead, lean more about our ancestors, and the afterlife. Now that would be a spooky Halloween,” Vicky Vampira, 22, anatomy said.

The festivities that the Celts participated in are very similar to those that we take part in Halloween today, even though many people are not aware of where these ideas of dressing up, partying and trick or treating came from.

“I appreciate the Celts celebration of Samhain, it resembles what we call Halloween in America, but Samhain is more spiritual, much more interesting and meaningful than the Hallmark Halloween we celebrate today,” Ima Eatchu, 18, cannibalism said.


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