Saturday, October 31, 2020

How To Celebrate Samhain Instead of Halloween This Year

 At a certain point in your life, you might feel like you've outgrown your usual Halloween celebrations. Carving pumpkins, taking the kids out trick-or-treating, getting dressed up and going to a costume party have lost their appeal for you. Maybe your kids have grown up or you're tired of the pressure of the party scene and you want to celebrate in a low key way. Celebrating Samhain might be an appealing alternative.

What is Samhain?

Samhain (pronounced saah-win or saah-ween) is a traditional Celtic/Northern European celebration of the end of summer and harvest and the beginning of the cold season. Many people celebrate it on October 31st, coinciding with Halloween, while others wait until the closest full moon. The idea is that, at this time of year, the veil between the living and the dead is thin, thus facilitating communication between the living and the dead. Samhain honours this spiritual transition of the earth by paying homage to nature's cycle as well as the deceased. This is a reflective, peaceful celebration in contrast to the fun and secularism of Halloween events.

How to Celebrate Samhain

You can celebrate Samhain in a way that is personal and resonates with you. There is no wrong way to do it. Again though, the focus should be on paying homage to or reflecting on the dead, whether that's passed ancestors, old relationships/ways of being, or the transition of seasons.


A ritual is basically a ceremony of prescribed actions. It can be as elaborate or simple as you want. Check out the suggestions below to see what resonates for you. 

  • Create an altar or vignette of season decorations of gourds and flowers (this can include carving a pumpkin!)

  • Visit a cemetery to honour your deceased relatives. Reflect on their life and your relationship. Bring flowers as an offering of respect.

  • Engage in a full moon ritual to harness the energy of this time. This entails making a list of those things that you would like to get rid of in your life. Burn the list to symbolize the end of those things, making room for the new to manifest.

  • Contact your ancestors through dream-work or a professional. If you are comfortable doing this, book a session with a shaman or other professional for ancestral healing. If you do dream work on your own, this could just be as simple as paying attention to your dreams around this time and journalling them. Perhaps you will see a message come through from a deceased relative. Additionally, you could try lucid dreaming, where you set an intention to contact a relative and see where your imagination takes you! This can be a powerful practice to provide insight for your life as well as compassion for your ancestors.

  • Connect with Nature by taking walks in the forest or by the water during the day catching that last bit of vitamin D before the darker days of winter arrive. Also, walking in the moonlight connects you with the energy of the full moon.

While celebrating Halloween might have been fun in your youth, and there is always a time and a place for fun, maybe you are now ready to move on to a more reflective practice. The tradition of Samhain can get you in touch with the cycles of nature, the moon and your ancestors. You may find that it, in fact, becomes one of your favourite times of year, like me.

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