You say Sow-een, I say Sah-wen: The Feast of Samhain, and the Gaelic Roots of Halloween

How it’s New York: Well, hey, who in New York doesn’t like Halloween?
How it’s Irish: Samhain, lots of discussion of interesting foods and activities, and a quick mention of Bram Stoker.

Hween picWell, it’s Oct. 31, so maybe you’re counting the hours until it gets dark so you can head out trick-or-treating. Or maybe you’re planning to sit the evening by the fire with some apples or cider and tell a few ghost stories.

In honor of Halloween, we’re going to take a look at some of the Irish (and English, Scottish, Welsh, Manx, etc.) influences on the day.

The end of October and the start of November coincide with the feast of Samhain, one of the most important feast times in the year for the ancient Celts. Samhain was, and still is for modern observers, a time for gathering in the harvest, heralding the arrival of winter and awaiting the return of summer.

A lot of traditions we associate with Halloween, particularly in the United States, were adapted in part from ancient Celtic traditions and rituals – quite a few of which had been co-opted over the centuries by Christianity – as well as some more recent traditions from around Britain and Ireland.

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