Thursday, October 26, 2006

Thursday Thirteen #4 A spooky treat

Thirteen Things about Samhain

1.Samhain marks one of the two great doorways of the Celtic year, for the Celts divided the year into two seasons: the light and the dark, at Beltane on May 1st and Samhain on November 1st. Some believe that Samhain was the more important festival, marking the beginning of a whole new cycle, just as the Celtic day began at night. The most magical potent part of Samhain and its celebration is actually the eve before, hence Halloween.

2.Samhain literally means “summer's end.”

3. In the country year, Samhain marked the first day of winter, when the herders led the cattle and sheep down from their summer hillside pastures to the shelter of stable. All the crops and harvest were to be gathered and stowed away. It was also a time of Family reunions, all around the hearth.

4. The reasoning behind the idea of Winter was because the fairies would come in November and blast all the crops with the cold breath. So when a blizzard strikes, blame Tinkerbell.

5. Samhain was the principal Festival for the calendar year. Think Thanksgiving and Christmas/Hannukah and wrap them into one.

6.At at all the turning points of the Celtic year, the gods drew near to Earth at Samhain, so many sacrifices and gifts were offered up in thanksgiving for the harvest. Personal prayers in the form of objects symbolizing the wishes of supplicants or ailments to be healed were cast into the fire, and at the end of the ceremonies, brands were lit from the great fire of Tara to re-kindle all the home fires of the tribe, as at Beltane. As they received the flame that marked this time of beginnings, people surely felt a sense of the kindling of new dreams, projects and hopes for the year to come.

7. The Samhain fires continued to blaze down the centuries. In the 1860s the Halloween bonfires were still so popular in Scotland that one traveler reported seeing thirty fires lighting up the hillsides all on one night, each surrounded by rings of dancing figures, a practice which continued up to the first World War.

8.After the great Celebrations, ashes from the fires were sprinkled over the fields to protect them during the winter months -- and of course, they also improved the soil. The bonfire provided an island of light within the oncoming tide of winter darkness, keeping away cold, discomfort, and evil spirits long before electricity illumined our nights.

9.Samhain was a significant time for divination, perhaps even more so than May or Midsummer’s Eve, because this was the chief of the three Spirit Nights. Divination customs and games frequently featured apples and nuts from the recent harvest, and candles played an important part in adding atmosphere to the mysteries.

10. Divination is the attempt of ascertaining information by interpretation of omens or an alleged supernatural agency.

11. The Apple plays a major significance in Samhain traditions and celebrations. And during Samhain, the apple is in harvest, making it the spiritual centerpiece.

12. At the heart of the Celtic Otherworld grows an apple tree whose fruit has magical properties. Old sagas tell of heroes crossing the western sea to find this wondrous country, known in Ireland as Emhain Abhlach, (Evan Avlach) and in Britain, Avalon.

13. Samhain is one of the eight annual holidays referred to as Sabbats observed by modern day Wiccans, and by other Neopagans who base their traditions on Wicca. Its date is not universally agreed upon, as many Neopagan movements have no binding structure upon which all agree.

In the end, this is something I have really been interested in for a long time, ever since the first wife actually. Mrs Duck excepts the concept, as long as I am not crazy out front with it. Does that really count as having a faith if its in the background?

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The Imperfect Christian said...

Wow, did I ever learn a lot!! Thanks!

Chaotic Mom said...

I've read a couple similar to this one. VERY interesting, to look into the history of this holiday. Helps to understand it better.

I've posted my Thursday Thirteen, too. Enjoy! ;)

Anonymous said...

Great list - thanks for sharing. I love learning interesting bits of information like this.

Happy TT. :)

tiggerprr said...

What a cool post! Isn't it interesting how old traditions and old times sneak into the fabric of our present?

nancy said...

Oh yeah it counts. Mine is not in your face, it would drive my Dh crazy. Now I understand you interest in Melchizedak.

So does this make you a Woo-Hoo Dude?

Thanks so much for your words of encouragement on my blog.

N. Mallory said...

I've always loved Celtic mythology, particularly stuff related to Otherworld.

Colleen said...

You learn something new every day! Happy TT!

Anonymous said...

I love Thursday Thirteens that actually teach me something! That is a great list!!

I tried to go for the informative this week, too. But it didn't seem to go over very well.

Anonymous said...

Wonderfully presented information - I love it when a TT is informative.

As for your question "Does that really count as having a faith if its in the background?", I say of course it does! And sometimes faith is strongest when it takes on the characteristics of deep-flowing water - quieter than a raging fire, and longer lasting, consistent even.

Over time it can change everything.

Julie said...

Interesting stuff. I always hate the fact that Halloween hits right when the weather gets cold and it's always dark and freezing when we take the kids out to visit the neighbors. Maybe if I can learn to appreciate the significance of the season in a more celebratory/symbolic way it won't bother me so much.

Thanks for visiting my blog.

Darla said...

Fascinating facts! Thanks for the info!

Anonymous said...

Very interesting post - thanks for the info!

Carmen said...

i've gotten a lot of education on this today. I feel like now i know!

Anonymous said...

Of course it counts. Not everyone has to be "out of the broomcloset". If you feel comfortable with it, it's okay!
Thanks for stopping by again.

Anonymous said...

P.S. I take no blame for any blizzard! ;-)

Anonymous said...

I've heard of Samhain, but never really knew what it meant. I guess you learn something new everyday. :-)