Observed for centuries in
Oíche Shamhna (Irish), Oidhche Shamhna (Scottish Gaelic) and Oie Houney (Manx), all meaning Samhain night, falls on 31 October and extends through Nov 1st (Samhain day). The entire festival is known as Lá Shamhna (Irish), Là Shamhna (Scottish Gaelic) and Laa Houney (Manx)
Feasts are prepared and the souls of the dead loved ones were invited to join in, a place set for them at the table. They told stories about those who had passed and it was believed they would be rewarded and blessed by these spirits.
Along with their fascination and curiosity about the occult, fear of evil souls and spirits prompted the need for protection. Fairies were also thought to steal humans on Samhain and avoided going near what they believed to be the fairy mounds. People stayed close to home or, if they had to walk at night, they turned their clothing inside-out and carried bits of iron and salt to keep the fairies away. Offerings of food were left by the door for the fairies to avoid angering them and to make sure they had their blessings in the new year.
The need to protect against fairies and spirits on Samhain led to rituals like guising, or as it is known in west Scot dialect ‘golshans’. In the 1800s there are records of people dressed costumes, carrying hollowed out turnips as lanterns, and visiting from house to house, collecting cakes, fruit and coin.
While Halloween has replaced Samhain festivals in most areas of the world, it is still seen as a spiritual holiday for Wiccans and Celtic neopagans.
So light your fires, hollow out your turnips, and don you disguise, for tonight the fairies and spirits will roam the earth and one can’t be too careful.
I write primarily historical romance set in medieval Scotland, but also have WIPS set during the Civil War, War of 1812 and ones dealing with Native American Culture. I also have a few Romanic suspense, time travel and paranormals on the go
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BJ Scott. www.authorbjscott.com
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