death, Samhain and Dia de los Muertos

As Samhain approaches thought I would share some ideas and activities and of course my opinions. Like most witches I love this holiday, but then I love all holidays and a chance to celebrate. Growing up in California this time of year was always special not only is it Samhain, the Day after is Dia de Los Muertos. This is the holiday that speaks to my an my childhood so lets talk a little about the different holidays. This will be very brief history. It is important for me to notice that this time of year had similar meanings across the world, in different cultures.

Samhain is the Celtic new year. It is considered the day that the veil between worlds is thinnest.  Samhain means summers end. It is the third and final harvest festival in the Wheel of the Year.  It is a time to remember the past year and the past in general and look forward to the new. Often celebrators dressed up in costumes for the festivities. I found the following page for a more complete history of Samhian:

Dia de las Muertos (Day of the Dead) also held on November first. A time to remember ancestors who have past on and to celebrate their life.  This tradition is also seen in the Catholic celebration of All Souls Day.  When the conquistadors arrived in Mexico they found the indigenous  people performing a ritual to honor the dead. This ritual has been in existence for about 3,000 years before the conquistadors showed up. The Spaniards felt like this ritual mocked death and they tried to eradicate it.  (a good lesson for all of us. Just because you don’t understand doesn’t mean it is scary or bad.) This holiday is marked today by setting up elaborate altars (do yourself a favor and google search that. They are stunning!) Also by decorating family graves.  Participants then and now donned wooden masks.

Both of these cultures (thousands of miles apart) had a very different look at death then we do. For the most part we are so scared of death that we ignore it. We don’t recognize it as part of life. We want to pretend it doesn’t exist. We are in a lot of ways also numb to it by the constant reports of deaths on the news. These two examples; Samhain and Dia de los Muertos celebrated their ancestors during this time.


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