Tuesday, 23 November 2021

When is the Festival of Samhain?

Every day I try to put up some interesting magical or occult info related to the date on my Facebook page. And I must admit that this post was inspired by a lady who was extremely critical that I had put the 16th of November as Hecate Night, as she told me that this festival is timed by the Moon and made it quite clear that I was wrong and as she put it 'facts are facts'.
    So I thought I would write about something every Witch and Pagan is aware of, the date of the festival of Samhain. The simple answer to this question is that the festival of Samhain is: the evening of the 31st of October, known today as Halloween.
    But Samhain is a Celtic festival, and the Celts used a lunar calendar, based on the New and Full Moons. this is one of the reasons the the Full Moons have been given names through the centuries, and these names vary depending on the beliefs and farming practises used by different cultures and at different times in history.
    The Full Moon nearest to the Autumn Equinox is still known as the Harvest Moon and the full moon which follows it is the Hunter's Moon. And the Hunter's Moon marks the feast of Samhain.
    Now this is all well and good but Full Moons fall on different dates each year by our current solar, Gregorian calendar. So the nearest Full Moon to the 31st of October could be up to a fortnight before or after this date. So that gives you a whole month (moonth) when you could choose to celebrate the festival of Samhain.
    There is also the added complication when we take into account the change of our calendar from the Old Style Julian Calendar to the New Style Gregorian Calendar.
    These two calendars were and are massively out of sync with each other. To move to the Gregorian calendar in 1752, was done in the UK by simply printing calendars with Wednesday the 2nd of September, being followed the next day as Thursday the 14th of September. This meant that it looked like 11 days had been excised from the calendar and did lead to rioting in the streets of London, with mobs demanding the return of their 'lost' days'.
    Now actually the UK was quite late in adopting this calendar and it had been in use on the Continent for some time. So if you were a merchant passing between Europe and Britain, you were used to swapping between calendars as they were being used in the different countries.
    So to return to our question: When do we celebrate Samhain? If we celebrate on the 31st of October, by the Old Style Julian Calendar the 31st of October would fall 11 days later on the 11th of November.
    So the answer to the question is: we can celebrate Samhain on a full Moon that falls between around the 15th of October and the 14th of November, or the 31st of October, or the 11th of November.
    But hang on a cotton picking moment! Many modern covens and magical groups have set days of the week when they hold their meetings and rituals, for example on a Friday or Saturday night, so they may well celebrate Samhain on a Friday or Saturday night nearest to the 31st of October, or the 11th of October, or the Full Moon nearest to one or other of those dates.
    In fact there are some Witches and covens who deliberately do not celebrate Samhain on the 31st of October. This is because they do not want their preparations and rituals interrupting by children out 'Trick or Treat'ing. Instead they may well hold a 'Trick or Treat' party on the 31st of October and pick a quieter night for their rituals.
    We have to also bear in mind that on the astral planes there is no 'time', there are no 'dates' and no 'calendar' so the spirits will come whenever they are invited to.
    Some time in the far distant past someone, or some group decided that this time of year was the right time to hold a celebration which became Samhain. This is how all celebrations, festivals and saints days were allocated - and are still being created and allocated.
    We can each decide when we will celebrate and there are many reasons why we might choose a specific date.
    There is nothing 'wrong' or 'incorrect' about any of the dates for Samhain, or for any other festival.
    The important thing is that we hold these celebrations.


1 comment:

  1. Bravo! Beautifully put. I often think that when it comes to festivals, intuition is as important as the calendar date.