“Is it anti-Pagan to celebrate Halloween? How do Halloween and Samhain relate, if at all, to one another? I grew up loving Halloween, but it now seems disrespectful to me to go out collecting candy while I’m supposed to be honoring the spirits of my dead ancestors.”
There is no contradiction between Halloween and Samhain, because they are separate entities. However much Evangelical Christians rant about the Pagan origins of Halloween and it’s supposed root in evil and demonic energy, blah blah blah, modern Halloween celebrations actually have very little to do with the seasons origins. Here at PaganCentric, we largely view Halloween as a secular celebration that occurs on October 31st and Samhain as a religious celebration that begins at midnight on November 1st when October becomes November (well, technically, it begins at sundown on Samhain’s Eve). Traditionally, November 1st is Samhain. October 31st is Halloween. There’s no reason Pagans can’t celebrate both. Just remember to take a moment in your Halloween revelries to take note of the calendar rolling over to November 1st, which is, for us at least, the beginning of the Pagan new year.
Much like Yule and Christmas, Samhain and Halloween are two different ways of observing the same time of year. Think of Samhain as the spiritual version, and Halloween as the secular. There’s no reason at all why you can’t celebrate both if you choose.
A small portion of the Pagan community finds the whole Halloween thing off-putting. If it doesn’t feel right to you, then don’t do it. If you’re one of those folks who feel that Halloween trivializes Samhain, don’t celebrate it. But if you want to celebrate both, there’s no conflict. There’s no reason you can’t observe the solemnity of Samhain in addition to the fun of Halloween. A bunch of kids collecting candy and dressed like pirates and monsters shouldn’t challenge Pagans’ religious beliefs any more than Santa Claus should contradict Christians’ during the Yule season. If your ancestors know that you honor and respect them, they won’t be troubled by the inclusion of a Snickers bar or the consumption of liquid spirits. Just don’t get the two confused and light a candle on your alter for the Frankenstein monster!
In the end, it’s a matter of personal choice. I know Christians who do not celebrate the secular aspects of Christmas, who don’t put up a tree or adorn their homes with images of Santa Claus. For them that is a matter of preference. But most Christians don’t find a conflict between the secular celebrations and the spiritual, and neither should Pagans during Halloween and Samhain. If Halloween bothers you, don’t celebrate. If it doesn’t and you want to enjoy the secular celebration of Halloween, don’t fret. The only person who can tell you what is right and proper for you IS you.
~ Wicasta Lovelace
Wicasta, very well put. You are completely right. The only one who can tell you what is right for you is YOU, absolutely true. I have considered myself to be pagan for many years and I combine Halloween and Samhain. When I was younger I would talk to my passed relatives and friends in private and then do the dressing up/ trick or treat with my friends . Since growing up and now having a son, I take him to the cemetery during the day of 31st Oct and we lay flowers for ppl we know who have passed. We have had a lot of bereavement this yr and my son being only 4 has found this difficult to deal with and to get his head around but the other day he asked to visit the cemetery so I think Halloween this year will help him. Then after the sadness we feel after visiting the cemetary I like to do something more fun so we dress up, play games such as Apple bobbing, this yr we are having some friends round and then going trick or treating. Last yr was first time I’d done trick or treat with my son and I taught him that it is a social event, a way to meet other children in the neighbourhood and a way of showing kindness and sharing, we knock at other houses they give us sweets, they knock at ours we give them sweets. Then on 1st Nov we light a candle at home for the special ppl we love who have passed. I think the festival is what you make it. It doesn’t matter what you believe or don’t believe, just make it about what it means to you!