Most know that Halloween is October 31st, a holiday that some consider All Hallow's Eve, but it has Celtic and pagan roots where it is known as Samhain. Pagan holidays like Imbolc, Beltane, Lammas, and Samhain follow a yearly tradition of seasons with spiritual connotations.
Samhain is the day when the 'other' side is closer to human life than usual, where some put up altars to their relatives who have departed because they feel the veil is most easily pierced. It's not surprising why costumes like ghosts or witches have been popular for the parties or trick-or-treating.
In my books, I've sometimes used these celebrations. Samhain is in one of my Oregon historicals, [Love Waits], and I plan it will be (with more of its spiritual meaning) in the work in progress.
In the historical, it was for fun and showed the family's growing strength where marriages happened and children began to grow up. Jed (hero from Going Home) wanted to share with his Oregon family the Scottish and Southern traditions with which he'd grown up.
Here's a bit from the fourth in the Oregon series-- a teaser for the family as well as readers for what might be coming.
from Love Waits:
Belle headed back down the hall and looked in on Rand before she went to the children’s rooms. The girls were already whispering and so she opened the door without knocking. Jessica seemed enamored of whatever Laura was telling her. She looked up at Belle. “Samhain,” she said. “That’s what it is next week. Did you know that?”
“No, I did not. What does it mean?”
“It’s when we play games and bob for apples, and something Uncle Jed called Puicini. It’s kind of fortune telling. Do you think that’s bad?”
Belle smiled. “Not at all. How do you play it?”
“You are blindfolded and then there are four saucers in front of you. They are moved around. The one you choose is what your next year will be full of.”
“And the saucers are each?
“Earth, water, beans, and money. I guess we all want money as not sure what the others would mean.” Laura grinned. “Uncle Jed said they do this from where he came. It’s a nighttime game. He said sometimes even with fireworks. I haven’t yet gotten to do it but they said we will tomorrow night.”
“It sounds like great fun especially the bobbing for apples.”
“It might be pagan.” Laura’s face took on a worried expression.
“It doesn’t sound like that,” Belle said as she helped Jessica out of her nightgown and into a dress. “It sounds like it is nature oriented. Working the earth and it yielding all you wanted, would be like a garden. The water would be maybe a trip.” She smiled as she considered other options. “Or enough rain to keep the land good. “Beans would be food, and of course, we know what money is, don’t we.”
“He said they sometimes decorate for it too. It’s also about the ones who... went before us. Kind of, I think.”
“Then even better.”
“Except, he said sometimes there are ghost stories,” Laura said. “That might be scary.”
Laura looked at Belle for help.
“Well ghost stories are just for fun. They are supposed to scare us but in a way that we know it’s not real. So you get tingles up your spine.” She reached over and tickled up Elizabeth’s back. “And they can be about mysteries where nobody knows what really happened, and they tell stories to try and figure it out. Does your Uncle Jed have some ghost stories that he shares?” she asked trying to turn this back to Laura. She hoped she had said nothing to interfere with what Amy had been teaching.
“Uncle Jed said he would tell us one. One he had been told when he was a little boy. It has to be in the dark though. He said anyone could tell a ghoststory if they wanted. Do you know any?”
Belle smiled remembering how she had admired her older sisters and wanted them to show interest in her. Now she had a niece. She had not thought how important a responsibility that was.
“Well, if I think of one, I’ll definitely share it.”
Laura, Elizabeth and Jessica smiled broadly.
“And I forgot,” Belle said, “head to the kitchen. Breakfast is ready.”