How to celebrate Samhain

5 ways you can celebrate Samhain

There are many ways to celebrate this ancient festival, and here you will be guided through some traditional and some more modern rituals. Samhain (a Gaelic word pronounced “sow-win”) is an ancient Celtic festival marking the end of the summer harvest and ushers in the beginning of the winter months. You may also know it as Halloween.

Traditionally it is held on 1 November, but celebrations begin on the evening of 31 October, as the Celtic days began and ended at sunset. Samhain is one of the four Gaelic seasonal festivals, and is officially the start of the Celtic new year. It is a moment of transition, a portal to the mystic realms, when the veil between this world and the next becomes diaphanous, allowing spirits to wander freely, and whispers of ancient wisdom to fill the air.

5 ways to celebrate Samhain with traditional rituals

The history of Samhain

The word "Samhain" itself carries the essence of this day, signifying 'summer's end,' where darkness overtakes the light. A time of harvest and introspection, it beckons us to reconnect with the earth, to feel the raw pulse of nature coursing through our veins. This venerable celebration finds its roots in the Celtic traditions, where villagers would gather to share their last bounties of the year. Yet, beyond the material offerings, Samhain was a time of profound spiritual significance. It was the moment when nature's heartbeat slowed, when the winds whispered secrets, and the wisdom of the earth unveiled itself in cryptic riddles.

Pagan rituals for Samhain

During Samhain, hearth fires within the home were left to burn out while the final harvest was collected by the village. When the last harvest was finally collected, Druid priests lit a huge fire using a wheel that represented the sun, using sparks from its embers. Each then took a flame from the bonfire back to their home to relight their own hearths. Samhain celebrations took place over three days and three nights, with huge feasts and the drinking of much mead and wine. The lighting of sacred fires, an act of reverence and protection, ignited the path for wandering spirits. Carved turnips, transformed into eerie lanterns, guided these ethereal guests back to their homes. Divination, the art of peering into the unknown, unfolded as the veil wavered, offering insights into the future and past.

Samhain Traditions

According to Irish mythology, Samhain is a time when the doorways to the Otherworld open. The veil between our worlds is at its thinnest, allowing supernatural beings and the souls of ancestors to pass into our world; Samhain is a festival for the dead. The Celts left offerings outside their homes for fairies or spirits so that they were not tempted to kidnap or trick those inside. 

Samhain's rituals, steeped in tradition, guide us towards introspection, compelling us to explore the hidden corners of our souls. By partaking in these age-old ceremonies, we tap into the wellspring of knowledge passed down through generations, making our journey richer, more authentic, and deeply spiritual.

Simple ways to celebrate Samhain 

To celebrate Samhain in the traditional ways is to partake in a dance of age-old rituals that bind us to the cycles of nature and connect us with the ethereal. Let us explore five of these time-honoured traditions, steeped in history and folklore.

Light a Samhain Ancestral Bonfire

A popular way to celebrate Samhain is to light a fire outdoors. At the heart of Samhain, the bonfire beckons, a blazing beacon to guide the spirits of the departed home. In ancient times, communities would extinguish their hearth fires, only to relight them from the sacred Samhain bonfire. The flames were not only a symbol of protection but also a means of communicating with the otherworld. As you gather around the flickering embers, invite your ancestors into the circle of warmth. Share stories of those who came before you, and let their presence be known. Let the flames' crackling tongues remind you that you are bound by blood and spirit to a lineage of wisdom.

Celebrate Samhain by wearing seasonal jewellery as sacred talismans

Another way to celebrate Samhain is to adorn yourself with powerful talismans. Jewellery possesses the power to forge a profound personal connection. When you wear a symbol of your reverence, it becomes a tactile touchstone, a constant companion to your desires and dreams. This symbolic Samhain jewellery adorns you not as mere ornamentation but as an intricate part of a profound ritual. In the same way, an altar is adorned with reverence, each piece carefully chosen for its significance, you, too, become a living altar. Every pendant, ring, or amulet you wear is a sacred offering to the season, a testament to the spirits of Samhain.


Armour yourself with solid silver blackthorn, crossed in protective warding. This tree is sacred to the darkest wilds within us all. 

Raven necklace, raven talon pendant silver raven jewellery, raven claw, raven talonFORNI - RAVEN CLAW NECKLACE IN SOLID STERLING SILVER

Inspired by nordic mythology and Celtic folklore. Adorn and armour yourself, to invoke the protection and wisdom of the old gods.


A single lifecast acorn, moulded from an aged oak in rural England. A talisman to invoke your endurance and personal growth. A representation of the fertile Earth.

Hold a Samhain Dumb Supper feast

Among the most profound and mystical of Samhain's traditions is the Dumb Supper. In hushed reverence, set a table for a silent meal, and invite your ancestors to join. As you dine in silence, you may feel their presence keenly. For it is in the quiet of the night that they speak to our hearts, not with words, but with the deepest, most profound connections. This ancient ritual, shrouded in solemnity, is a poignant reminder of the power of the unspoken bond that transcends time and space. Set a table adorned with gourds and apples, symbols of abundance and the harvest's end. This feast is not just sustenance for the body but a spiritual communion with ancestors. Pour a libation to the departed, share stories of their lives, and partake in dishes steeped in tradition – such as colcannon and soul cakes – that offer nourishment to the soul. Each morsel is a link to the past, an act of devotion that fuels the living and the ancestral spirits alike.

Create Samhain Spirit Lights, Pumpkins and Jack-O'-Lanterns

The Jack-O'-Lantern, with its eerie glow, has a history as deep as the night itself. The practice of carving faces into turnips or pumpkins dates back to ancient Ireland, when the tale of "Stingy Jack" became legend. According to folklore, Jack's lantern was a warning to wandering spirits, and the practice spread. By carving your own Jack-O'-Lantern, you summon the spirit of Samhain. Place it in your window to guide benevolent souls and ward off malevolent ones, while the candle within represents the eternal flame of life.

Create a Samhain altar for your ancestors 

One way to celebrate Samhain is to prepare a sacred space adorned with photographs, heirlooms, and tokens of your forebears. Light candles, their flames representing the eternal light of the spirit world. As you arrange these relics, the ancestral whispers shall grow louder, and the connection between the realms shall solidify. For it is said that on Samhain, the boundary between worlds fades, and we may feel the embrace of our departed loved ones once more.

Samhain rituals to celebrate the season 

As you partake in these rituals, remember a time when the mystical and the mundane coalesce. It is a celebration of remembrance, a communion with the past, a dance of the eternal. When the bonfires crackle and the wind carries the echoes of time, we stand at the crossroads of existence, embracing the mystic and the unknown. 

As the whispers of the ancestors surround us, may we find solace and wisdom in the ancient ways, knowing that, in the end, it is our collective history that makes us whole. Samhain, the bridge between worlds, beckons us to embrace the profound, to dance with spirits and to remember, in reverent harmony, the eternal cycle of life, death, and rebirth.