Summer’s end for Celtics

Well, it’s just about Samhain time.

While the rest of us are dressing up like zombies and/or Elvis for Halloween, the traditional Celtic festival of Samhain (pronounced sow-en) will be honored in Ireland and other areas with a Celtic history.

Samhain is an old Celtic tradition, and a precursor to our modern Halloween. The word means “summer's end” and for the Celts it was the dawn of the new year. They believed that on this one day the boundary between the living and the dead was weak, so the dead could come and hang out. Some of these dead spirits would play tricks on the living people; others might even cause them harm. To appease these spirits, the druids in the society would sacrifice animals.

Today, people still celebrate Samhain as an homage to the old traditions (but as far as I know, they no longer sacrifice animals). In Dublin, there's an annual Samhain Parade to honor the day. The parade follows a path through the city, usually ending up outside the Temple Bar area. The spectacle involves all the things you’d expect from a parade celebrating a holiday that spawned Halloween: monsters, druids, dragons, samba performers. The festivities end with a stirring fireworks display.

It all sounds like a fun event to commemorate ancient Celtic traditions. But it does beg the question: where’s my candy?


Photo: readerwalker via Flickr (CC license)

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