What is Samhain?

If you’ve been following the mad splatterings of my brain for a year or longer, you’ve probably heard me refer to Halloween as Samhain. Which probably makes no sense, right? Let me clear this up right quick before we get down to the weirdness of birds on fire, snakes eating themselves and other stuff.




What is Samhain?

Samhain is an ancient Celtic festival surrounded by a lot of myth, lore and differing opinions. It’s where Halloween came from.


It’s pronounced:

“sow-in” in Irish

“sav-en” in Scottish

“sow-een” in Welsh


Samhain takes place on October 30th, 31st, and November 1st.

It’s the Celtic New Year’s Eve and New Year’s Day. It’s both the end and the beginning of their calendar year.

I’ll go into more small details about Samhain in future posts but for now this is my point. Halloween/Samhain is the end and beginning.

Which is really vague and yet specific and leaves room for all sorts of creepy things.

Which is awesome.


The End and the Beginning

The concept of the end and the beginning, the alpha and omega, the circle of life, etc. is everywhere. I mean all you have to do is pop in The Lion King to realize this.

But what does it mean? And what does it have to do with Halloween?

According to some, the Celts considered the year split into two seasons. Summer and Winter. They considered Samhain the end of the summer and the beginning of winter.


The death of warmth and the rebirth of the cold. It was the time they harvested for the final time that year. It was also the first fire festival of the new year. This time was also heavily seeped in the one subject no one ever escapes: death.

Samhain was a time to celebrate death and renewal. This time stood still between the world of the living and the dead. As they danced around the bonfire, they celebrated life but also acknowledged that they too would die. A time to honor the dead and the light that burned through the night.

Nowadays (and as a symbol), Samhain also focuses on needing to let go of things and begin the new. It’s a time to end negative relationships, addictions or anything else holding you back from moving forward. Start planning for something new (planting seeds). This death is necessary for change.



Change is good. It is needed. Sometimes it really sucks but if we never move forward, well to be a bit redundant here, you’re just standing still.

Now, don’t get me wrong. Some things shouldn’t change. You do not change yourself and or things or situations simply for the sake of change.

But when you’re holding onto something that you shouldn’t, something that’s hurting you, something that, regardless of how tightly you hold on to – you need to let go. And part of you knows this. Don’t let denial keep you in the same place. Let go. Let it die so that you can move forward and allow yourself to be reborn and live.



A lot of Celtic knotwork shows this belief in change and the constant of death and rebirth.

But Celts aren’t the only peoples or symbols that tie in with the “end and beginning” symbolism. There are actually quite a few mythological creatures that share the same meaning, from countries all over the world.  There are literally tons.

For brevity’s sake, I’m going to pick three symbols to expound upon. Because, you know, I don’t want to be chained to my laptop for months straight, k? Okay.

  • Ouroboros
  • Phoenix
  • Celtic Knots


So, tune into my brand of crazy in the coming weeks for more info on these symbols. And you know, more random Halloween and Samhain facts and opinions.

Because October.


Halloween Home


Plus, you know, Halloween is just pure awesomeness. Check out that uber decorated house. Need I repeat that I love Halloween?


Do you enjoy Halloween? Why?



Filed under The Odd Bit

4 responses to “What is Samhain?

  1. Pingback: Halloween / Samhain | DaphneShadows

  2. Pingback: Halloween (Samhain) Music Challenge | DaphneShadows

  3. I like and don’t like Halloween. To me it totally symbolizes the celebration of death and life. So it is very serious to me, and therefore the costumes and general revelry can sometimes irritate me. I enjoy walking around outside during the days surrounding Halloween, because you can feel in the air that it is a thin time (a time when the veil between the worlds is thinnest). That thinness is always an awesome thing to witness.

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