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Samhain

In RE today, (and dovetailing nicely with work we have done in History on the Celtic world the Romans found when they invaded Britain) we looked at Samhain, (pronounced sah-win) which is one of four festivals in the Celtic pagan calendar, and like the others is one which was altered as Christianity spread across our country. Samhain signaled the end of the harvest season and the beginning of winter. All crops were harvested and stored, and all cattle brought down from summer pastures to be kept inside by the 31st of October. It was a time of feasting as harvests were celebrated, but as with many Celtic festivals it also marked the time when the line between the worlds of the living and ‘other’ was at its thinnest, and for a day dead souls could return to visit the human world. Families set places at their tables for departed relatives, still offering hospitality to their memories. Children would wear masks like ghosts and spirits and visit other houses, their appearance was seen as symbolic of the returning spirits of past family and friends, and they would receive treats and gifts as a mark of respect. However, it wasn’t only benign spirits that would pass. People would build fires and set up lanterns to ward off evil spirits. If people had to leave their houses at night at this time, they would wear a mask or some form of disguise in case an evil spirit, or someone they had wronged in life could torment them. As Christianity spread many of the ‘old ways’ were forgotten or changed in some way. Samhain? It became known as Hallowe’en…

As for the Jack O’ Lantern… another Celtic tradition and another story for another time, but one well worth finding out about! For those parents of an age where they know who Scooter were, watch the video, but like they used to say… ‘tie your shoes!’ you may find your feet tapping to a bit of Euro Techno!

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