Samhain, All Saints' Day, Halloween...

November 24, 2017

Because of malfunction of our website this post going to with 3 weeks delay... 

Old times celebrations:




When:night 31 X-1 XI

Period: it started to fade in the IX century because of christian influence

Where: Ireland, Scotland, other celtic lands

Local names: “Time without time”, Calan Gaeaf (Wales), Kalan Gwav (Cornwall), Kalan Goañv (Brittany), Mee Houney (Isle of Man)


Origin of all celebration corresponding with this date. One of the 4 big Celtic holidays which divided 4 vegetation cycles. The date as such should be treated in a tentative way because it was set by druids based on the observation of the moon. The Samhain was the celtic New Year Eve, as a threshold between warm part of the year and a winter. That day, between two cycles time was suspended and the laws of the world weren’t affected. The threshold between world of alive and world of dead became blurred and the ghosts could walked between living.

Also, big part of the celtic legends happened on that day.



  • Sacrifices, probably from animals and crops.

  • Celts put down all the fires as the end of old year. The other reasons of shutting down the light was to not show evil ghosts the way to their homes. Then druids set bonfires from which people lit torches and took it to their homes. These lights were meant to show the way to ghosts of the ancestors.

  • As other means of protection, people wore rags and masks to appear for evil spirits as one of them and be safe from them. It was also believed that when you wore a mask, you couldn’t be possessed on that day.

And frankly tens of dozens other customs (read about it, it’s fascinating!)


Dziady (comes from polish ‘grandfathers’)


When: night 31 X-1 XI, traditionally celebrate in different regions from 3 to 6 times per year

Period: pre-christian - XIX although in some places are still celebrate remnants of this holiday  

Where: Slavic lands

Local names:  Дзяды (Belarus)


Celebration held in the sake of gaining the favour of the ancestors who were considered as the patrons of fertility and harvest.



  • Feast where participant throw or spill part of the meal on the floor, on grave as the sacrifice for the dead.

  • Giving the beggars food and money in exchange for their prayers. Roving beggars were called ‘dziady’ and from them came the name of the holiday. They were seen as a messengers between our world and the Otherworld.

  • Lighting fires for ghosts to get warm and show them way.

  • Fires ignited on the crossroads was meant to prevent finding way to villages for demons (souls of the people who died abruptly, as a suicide, drowned men etc.)

  • Come works and acts were also forbidden (eg. rapid getting up from the table, it could scare the souls away, cleaning after meal - to let the spirits eat or sewing to not tether soul to this world.)


Celebrate now:


All Saints' Day


When and some local names:

           31 X - All Hallows' Eve, All Saints' Eve, Wigilia Wszystkich Świętych

           1 XI - All Saints' Day, All Hallow’s Day, Hallowmas, Feast of All Saint, Wszystkich Świętych

           2 XI - All Souls' Day, Zaduszki (Dzień Zaduszny), Święto Zmarłych

All three days are called Allhallowtide.

Period: since 998 ad

Where: Europe


Christian’s day of the dead (originally celebrated in May 13, changed mid-eighth century as a reason to fight with pagan beliefs). It’s definitely more solemn holiday that all of the previous ones. Those are days to clean up graves, lit the candles and remember the dead. Catholic Church also holds the special masses for the dead. Many customs were adapted from pagan Dziady and Samhain to help accept the christian religion, by everyone.


Older customs:

  • Staying in home after dusk to avoid wandering spirits.

  • It was forbidden to do any works so the ghosts wouldn’t get angry (eg. to mash up butter)

  • Leaving food and alcohol on doorsteps for the dead.

  • Baking special type of bread and giving it to the poor.


Link for the interested.


Halloween (All Hallows' Evening)


When: night 31 X-1 XI

Period: since 40s of XIX

Where: America


The best  known but actually the newest. Came to America with Irish emigrants but it quickly lost it’s religious meaning and became just day of amusements and scary stories.



  • Jack-o’-lantern - lantern carved in the pumpkin with a small candle inside. Originally this type of lantern was made from rutabaga or turnip. At first it was meant to symbolize will-o'-the-wisps.

  • Trick-or-treat

  • Playing pranks

  • Costumes - now no longer rags but mostly ‘scary’ characters like witches, vampires or mummies. There are, of course, mostly through children competitions for the best, the most original costume.

  • And of course Halloween parties!


Day of the Dead


When: 31 X - 2 X

Period: since Aztecs (~3000 years)

Where: Mexico

Local names: Día de Muertos, Mexican Halloween


Probably the oldest of does holidays in Latin American cultures, comes from 3,000 years old Aztec festival. This is definitely the happiest, most colorful and musical version of the Day of the Dead. This holiday is about happiness, love for the ones who have died and cooking. Decorating homes with colors and flowers. For foreigners it can be very disturbing, the way of celebration. Families spend all night with picnic baskets at the gravesites to celebrate remembrance of those who passed away more, than to mourn their loss.

Festivities was also recognized by UNESCO as part of Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity.



  • The most characteristic symbol of the event are Skulls and skeletons which are practically everywhere.

  • Make up- vary characteristic skull-like paintings on the faces

  • Ofrendas - Families come together to prepare altars for the dead in their homes.

  • Processions and parades

  • Dance performances

  • Live theater

  • Mariachis - kind of mexican band. Through this days they are playing in the cemeteries.


I strongly recomend to check out this link! 





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