Irish folk lore puts great emphasis on Oíche Shamhna - Hallowe'en - as a time when ghosts are about and the fairies are moving from their summer to their winter quarters. The traditional food at this time of the year is the Bairín Breac otherwise known as the Hallowe'en Brack, a white, bread fruit loaf with a brown glazing containing: wheat, sultanas, citrus peel, yeast, sugar, cinnamon, coriander, ginger and cloves. Traditionally the brack had a divination purpose as well as being something nice to eat for hidden within the dough were :-
A piece of wood: to signify a beating by a partner
A button: signified that you will remain a bachelor
A coin: for wealth
A rag or a bean: meaning poverty
A ring or small circle of withy: meaning an early marriage
A religious medal signified that you would join Holy Orders
A thimble: signifying spinsterhood
Unfortunately today's Hallowe'en Brack only contains a small silver or gold coloured ring.
Hallowe'en is an abbreviation of Hallowed Eve which is held at night on 31st October and is the first part of a three day Christian festival which was followed by All Souls Day and then by All Saints Day.
Hallowe'en is not Samhain, however there are people who believe that the Christian Church adopted the festival and made it their own and that may well have been the case. Over the last few hundred years Hallowed Eve has become secularised into Hallowe'en and dare I say it, has been commercialised in much the same way as has happened to Christmas.
My understanding of Samhain is that the word means 'summers end' and it is a fire festival.
The timing of fire festivals are exactly mid way between an equinox & a solstice or a solstice and an equinox.
This year the true date of Samhain is 7th November and is further confirmed by data from the U.S. Naval Observatory, Washington DC. who tell us - "Cross-Quarter moments are interpolated as the midway points between the Solstices and Equinoxes"
Historic confirmation also comes from our ancient ancestors who when building the tombs and mounds such as the Mound of the Hostages on the Hill of Tara which is aligned to Sun on the midway point.
Thus Halloween cannot be Samhain.
I would like to wish all of my readers a Fun Filled Celebration!