Thursday Thirteen: Samhain a/k/a/ Halloween

One of my favorite movie moments takes place in My Left Foot, after the young Christy Brown has left church with his mother, who spent valuable coins to light votive candles that the parish priest extinguishes without a second thought. It is a scene that suggests the church is far too small to house the dreams of the spirit.

When Christy and his mother leave the church, a child in a Halloween mask sticks his face in Christy's and invites him to join the Halloween revels. A bonfire blazes in all the imaginative freedom and glory that the votives lack. It is a moment that suggests the spirit will not be hemmed in; it will blaze bright.

It's a beautiful juxtaposition in this Irish movie about the triumph of the spirit over all limitations. I took a look at the Celtic history of the holiday this week, and here'
s what I found:

1. Though holidays commemorating the dead take some form in cultures around the world, Halloween has a Celtic lineage.

2. The ancient Celts divided their year into the light--Beltaine--and the dark--Samhain. Samhain is the source of Halloween.

3. Samhain marks the beginning of a new cycle just as the Celtic day began at night.

4. The Celts believed that in the dark--the unknown and unnameable--came new beginnings.

5. These agrarian people understood that time is cyclical. Thus this eve of a new year represents a point outside of time, when the natural order of the universe dissolves back into primordial chaos as it prepares to re-establish itself in a new order.

6. At Samhain, the gods drew near the earth, so sacrifices and gifts were offered up in gratitude for the harvest.

7. The human and spiritual worlds were said to merge at Samhain.

8. Bobbing for apples is a Halloween tradition that draws on Celtic lore. At the heart of the Celtic Otherworld grows an apple tree whose fruit has magical properties. (more)


  1. Very informative, happy TT! :)

  2. Yes - you are way smarter than me and I need to keep coming back here so some of it rubs off on me. Very cool information. See ya.

  3. What a great list...awesome info. Thanks for sharing and stopping by:) Happy TT

  4. Anonymous12:43 AM

    Thanks for the info...I didn't know a lot of those. :)

  5. I'm this was nothing I didn't know....but it's still nice to have others learn of the tradtions of the beginnings.

    Also the Jack O Lantern started by the Irish I believe...they'd put gourds out 'dress and decorated' in such a way to scare off evil spirits.

    Happy T T-ing

  6. Very interesting. I've been up to my eyeballs in pumpkins this month...our church youth group is selling them to raise money for their winter trip. I'll be glad when they are gone.

    Thanks for always stopping by History Is Elementary.

    I really enjoyed the video with the statue of David. Great job!

  7. Anonymous11:21 AM

    This is very informative,Sandy! Thanks for stopping by:)

  8. You put a lot of work into this! Happy TT~ you are a ray of knowledge!

  9. Great post. It is good to post the story behind holidays. I enjoy expanding my mind. I find it expands the soul. This is one of my favorite holidays. Nothing evil about it. I pay reverence to my ancestors who have passed over. I make cookies to honor my loved ones. Placed outside with candles to ensure a happy journey. :o)

    Happy Thursday.

  10. Anonymous3:31 PM

    thanks for sharing this one , now i have some idea about Halloween.

  11. Yes good list this was the firstyeari knew Halloween was Irish like me:>

  12. What a fabulous list! I love learning new things :)

  13. Anonymous12:31 PM

    Yes, I read that just this week too and found it very interesting. I had no idea that it was Celtic.

    Warmth and scary welcome to the Halloween Celebrations of ours :-)

    We'll have:

    - Halloween in Oslo Saturday 27th
    - Halloween Urban Legends 28th
    - How do you celebrate Halloween? the 30th

    ...and the big Halloween Party for all bloggers the 31th!!!!


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