What’s Inside: Learn how to throw the perfect Samhain celebration in the comfort of your own home with some favorite fall feast foods and recipes, seasonal crafts, and DIY decorations.
The days have grown longer, the leaves are changing colors and will soon be falling from the trees. Traditionally, this time of year is a time for reflection on what has passed in our lives during these past few months. It’s also a time to remember those who have passed away before us. This year, why not celebrate Samhain (pronounced SOW-in) by hosting a seasonal celebration with your friends or family members at home?
What is Samhain?
You might be asking yourself what exactly is Samhain and why should I celebrate it this year? Samhain is actually an ancient Gaelic festival celebrating the end of summer and preparation for winter and the “dark half” of the year.
Here in the northern hemisphere, Samhain is celebrated on November 1st with celebrations beginning on the evening of October 31st as the Celtic day began and ended at sunset. This seasonal celebration marks the halfway point between the autumn equinox and winter solstice. It is one of the four quarter days associated with Gaelic seasonal festivals, along with Imbolc, Beltane, and Lughnasa.
Why is it important to remember those who have passed on during this time of year?
Our ancestors celebrated life together with the rhythms of each season. Many of these celebrations were interwoven and connected to nature and Earth’s natural cycles. Today we celebrate the seasons and our connections to the natural world with intentional and meaningful celebrations that renew our joy in life and bring a deeper meaning to our human existence.
With Samhain, it is traditionally believed that the veils between the worlds are at their thinnest during this time. Boundaries dissolve and all is laid bare. It is time to honor and offer hospitality to, our ancestors. Samhain (like Beltaine) was a time when the ‘doorways’ to the Otherworld opened, allowing supernatural beings and the souls of the dead to come into our world; while Beltaine was a summer festival for the living, Samhain “was essentially a festival for the dead”. We continue to celebrate Samhain by remembering and honoring our ancestors.
How to Host a Samhain Celebration
Hosting a seasonal Samhain celebration is something I love to do. I feel that it’s such a lovely and significant way to celebrate a new season and is something everyone can relate to. The perfect way to celebrate in my opinion is to serve up some seasonal food, hot drinks, and an Instagram-worthy DIY craft project everyone will love.
Here is everything I did to host the perfect Samhain celebration.
For me, the idea of celebrating Samhain is to remember those who have passed before me, while also strengthening my relationships with family and friends.
6 Ideas for a Successful Samhain Celebration
Here are a few ideas to help you throw a meaningful Samhain Celebration!
1) Ancestors Altar
As a way to honor your ancestors, gather photographs, heirlooms, and other mementos of deceased family, friends, and even beloved pets. Arrange them in a prominent location, along with several candles.
Light the candles in their memory as you call out their names and express well wishes. Thank them for being part of your life. Sit quietly and pay attention to what you experience. Note any messages you receive in your journal. This Ancestral Altar can be created just for a Samhain celebration or kept year-round.
Samhain is a great time to embrace the season and decorate your home for fall. You can do this with pine cones, pumpkins and gourds, cinnamon spice, and candles. The idea is to bring some nature and evidence of harvest time inside — i.e., Autumn harvested fruits and light — since historically people started to spend more and more time indoors as the days grew colder and there were less daylight hours. Here’s an easy fall craft for waxing fall leaves that are perfect for Samhain decorating.
Many people do not realize that the modern-day celebration known as “Halloween” actually has its roots in this ancient Celtic holiday. For hundreds of years, our ancestors celebrated this festival at the end of summer with bonfires & feasting.
3) Fires & Candles
The days are getting shorter you say? We’ll need some light! And back in the day, that meant burning candles. Scatter votives, pillar candles, and candlesticks around your entertaining space and on your tables for a candlelit atmosphere. If you are lucky enough to have a firplace or outdoor space for a bonfire, light a cozy fire and gather around with your guests…there’s nothing like the warmth of a fire to make you feel connected.
4) Simple Samhain Ritual
No matter if you have a bonfire or light a fire in your fireplace, hand out slips of paper to gueast and have them write down an outmoded habit that they wish to end and have them cast it into the Samhain flames and imagine being released from that habit. Imagine yourself adopting a new, healthier way of being as you perform this little ritual.
5) Hot Drinks
Traditionally, a Samhain celebration would include warm drinks such as warm ale with cinnamon, cloves, and other seasonal spices. If you’re drinking alcohol, this is a great option. Another Samhain celebration drink of choice is a mulled wine. If you’re skipping alcohol, try a spiced latte, chai, or hot apple cider with the same spices and get yourself warm!
Check out some of my favorite Samhain drink recipes below:
6) Seasonal Small Plates
Traditionally, seasonal food played a large part in Samhain as the day is the end of October and the start of November, when the harvest was in and food plentiful.
Technically, the plates don’t need to be small. But, my goodness, there’s just something magical about a spread of small bite appetizers on little plates with mini silverware. This is also great for mingling and letting your guests make their own plates.
I suggest making whatever you can ahead of time so you can spend maximum time with your guests.
One of the best parts of a small plate spread is that you get to sample lots of delectables all at one. Here are some of my all-time favorite Autumn season small bites that are perfect for your Samhain party:
6) Crafts and Festivities
Bring your guests together with a fun activity like a DIY craft, cookie baking, or making music around a fire!
I decided on doing a craft project that’s perfect for Autumn when the days are getting shorter…it will remind you to appreciate every drop of sunlight you get!
Here are the ingredients for the perfect Dried Flower Sun Catchers
- Mini embroidery hoops
- pressed or dried flowers
- clear contact paper
- suction cup or fishing line for hanging
- Cut two pieces of contact paper just slightly bigger than the outside ring of your embroidery hoop.
- Cut small pieces of dried flowers and arrange on one of the cut contact paper circles.
- Carefully lay the other piece of contact paper over the one with the dried flowers.
- Press the two circles together firmly to remove air pockets and bubbles.
- Place the inner hoop on a flat surface; if there is a marked side, make sure it faces up. Lay the contact paper with dried flowers face up over the hoop. Place the outer hoop over the contact paper and inner hoop and push down, tighten the screw until it is snug.
- Attach a suction cup or monofiliment to hang in a sunny window.