13 Ideas for Samhain
by Heather Evenstar Osterman
Let’s face it; Halloween is a major commercialized holiday. So how do you find something meaningful to pull out of all the mainstream commercialism for your Sabbat celebrations? What do you do when most of the people around your family don’t understand the ancient traditions they unconsciously uphold?
Take a close look at the history behind the holiday, then create new traditions for your family to enjoy year after year. You don’t have to reject the mainstream; just teach your children why modern practices exist.
Samhain (also known as the Festival of the Dead or All Hallows’ Eve) is a time for us to release the spirits of those who have died during the previous year and for us to honor our ancestors. It is customary to set an extra place at your supper table on Samhain Eve in honor of the departed. This is not a scary time, rather a time when the veil is thin and we can spend time with the spirits in warmth and love. Here are some activities to try out with your family:
- Volunteer to talk to your child’s class about the origins of Halloween and how Wiccans really celebrate Samhain.
- Together as a family, create an altar honoring your family’s beloved dead (including pets). Use photos, mementos, keepsakes or anything that seems right.
- Make candleholders out of apples, turnips, gourds and small pumpkins by hollowing out deep holes in the tops. Make sure the candles are well-secured in the bases.
- Put candles in the windows to guide spirit travelers on their way.
- Eat dinner by candlelight, setting a place at the table for your beloved dead. If your children are older, try having a Dumb Supper where the meal is eaten in silence so the spirits are not frightened away.
- Bob for apples in your cauldron!
- Carve jack-o-lanterns to protect your home from malicious spirits. Have your children help make up a spell of protection to enforce the scary jack-o-lantern faces.
- Plant flower bulbs in your yard or somewhere special. Think of this as a special promise for spring, a secret the earth will keep.
- Take a walk and observe animals (like squirrels and geese) prepare for winter. At home, prepare for winter in your own way.
- Make a family tree on poster board. Let the kids draw pictures of each of the people on your tree.
- Snack on seeds and nuts (try toasted pumpkin and sunflower seeds). Or try making skull-shaped popcorn balls.
- Tell your children stories of when they where younger. Then encourage them to make up stories of their lives in the future.
- Why should kids have all the fun? The whole family should make costumes and go trick-or-treating!