Saturday, October 25, 2008

Samhain


I'm all intrigued about our Halloween Trick or Treat.  I hope everyone gives it a try.  I can't wait to see what sort of treats we all come up with.  I've spent some time thoughtfully rubbing my chin as I try to decide what sort of treat (or trick!) to offer.

In one of my past working incarnations, I owned a Celtic gift shop.  I imported gift items from Scotland, Ireland, and Wales - all the Celtic countries, in fact, which include Man, Brittany, and Galicia.  This time of year is a very big deal for Celtic peoples, for midnight on Oct. 31 is the turning of the year - Samhain, or Celtic New Year, and the origin of our Halloween.  This is the time when the veil between this world and the next is at it's thinnest, and those with eyes to see are able to see right through to the other side, where the dead live.  Some Celtic people would light bonfires on Samhain eve to guide the souls of loved ones, and make lanterns out of hollowed out turnips to lead the dead home for their annual visit.

My husband remembers that every Halloween, his father would dig a pit in back of the house, line it with bricks, fill it with wood, and light what they called a "bonfire", though it was more like a good sized campfire.  The family would sit around it and roast wieners and marshmallows on sticks and stretched-out hangars.  He has no idea where the family tradition came from, but I'm guessing it was passed down through the family from the misty past, for such traditions are remarkably enduring.  So, if you live in the country or don't worry about being fined for building an open fire in your back yard, stretch out those hangars and get yourself a bag of marshmallows, and take a trip into the past with some campfire s'mores.
Put a slab of Hershey bar on top of a Graham cracker,  put a melty-hot roasted marshmallow on the chocolate,  top with another Graham cracker, and enjoy.

By the way, Samhain is pronounced "SHAW-win."  In Gaelic, that mh makes a "w" sound in the middle of a word. 

3 comments:

Gayle said...

Thank you so much, Donis, for teaching me how to say Samhain! :-) Also, I remember in Thomas Hardy's Return of the Native there was some sort of festival where everyone made bonfires. Makes me want to dig a pit. And we do have some brush that needs burning. . . .

Dana Fredsti said...

As long as you don't do the whole Wicker Man thing... :-)

Cheri said...

This brought back memories of my childhood. In the rural area of Ohio, where I come from, my uncle always had a "Bonfire" for all the kids in the neighborhood and the neighboring town. We roasted hotdogs, marshmallows, and apples. Uncle Jimmy supplied everything, even store bought pop (soda to southerners). Thanks for the memories.