Samhain myths

These 5 Things About Samhain Are Actually Myths

Samhain myths [CC BY-SA 3.0 us], via Wikimedia Commons
5 things about Samhain that actually aren’t true at all.

Samhain is a celebration or festivity which has its origin in Gaelic or Celtic Ireland and Scotland. For the ancient Celtics, it’s a celebration marking the end of the harvest season and a short break before the beginning of a new year. For pagans, it’s a time to honor our early ancestors. And for modern day Christians, Samhain can simply refer to Halloween.

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The mingling of these different cultures and religion has eventually caused the mixing of views and interpretations to this ancient tradition. Here are the top 5 myths about Samhain that popped out over the centuries:

Myth 1: Samhain is the Celtic god of the dead

Perhaps the most common myth about Samhain is that it refers to the name of the Celtic God of the Dead. This is a mistake of an 18th century writer who is writing about the history of Halloween. Based on historical facts, Samhain came from the Gaelic word “Samhuinn” which literally means “summer’s end.” For pagans, Samhain is not the God of the death but instead, the yearly honoring of the death of a god in Celtic mythology.

Myth 2: Samhain is essentially the same as Halloween

Today, the majority of people construe Samhain as Halloween. In fact the two are historically linked with each other since Halloween was based on the Celtic tradition of Samhain. But in their strictest sense, Samhain is different from today’s Halloween. Samhain celebrates the end of the harvest season and our ancestors. On the other hand, Halloween is a celebration of All Saints Day for Catholics and Christians. Early Christians have started the tradition of Halloween and coincided it to the dates of Samhain to avoid the growth of paganism during those times. Additionally, Samhain is a serious spiritual or cultural activity while Halloween has been exposed to several Western influences like the fun idea of “trick or treating.”

Myth 3: Only pagans celebrate Samhain

Many also think that only pagans can celebrate Samhain or that pagans may not observe Halloween. This is entirely a myth. Christians or persons of any religious affiliation are free to participate in traditional Samhain festivities. Even atheists or those who consider themselves as “spiritual not religious” can participate in the tradition. On the other hand, it is not considered anti-pagan if modern day pagans celebrate the Christian tradition of Halloween.

Myth 4: The festivity is celebrated in October

Another popular belief is that Samhain is celebrated in the month of October. The truth is, Samhain falls in the month of November and only starts on the night of October 31. October 31 represents the final harvest time, it’s the Celtic New Year and is also known as the Ancestor Night.

Myth 5: Samhain is pronounced as sam-hāne

Finally, a lot of people think that Samhain is pronounced as sam-hāne. Experts of the early Gaelic language including the Trinity College Dublin has corrected it citing that the correct pronunciation is sow-in, sahv-in, or shahvin.

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Selena Fox of Circle Sanctuary has offered many ways to celebrate Samhain this year.


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