Samhain is probably the biggest holiday for Wiccans and Pagans alike. Celebrated on October 31st, it is an ancient festival that gave origin to what we know today as ‘Halloween’.
Samhain is a Celtic Festival. Known as “Summer’s End”, it marks the end of summer and the harvest season. It is the half way point between the Autumn Equinox and Winter Solstice. The beginning of winter is near.
This was the time where the veil between the spirit world and the physical was thinnest, where these spirits could cross between worlds for this one night. Spirits were thought to possess fortune telling abilities and could warn about omens. Many people would try to contact their ancestors during Samhain, in hopes that these spirits would bring advice and good news about the future.
There are many different ways to celebrate Samhain. You can find some of these ways in my post, Seven Ways to Celebrate Samhain. One of the main celebrations in these pagan festivals was through feast and food. Food holds cultural and spiritual significance throughout the world, and paganism is no different.
Here is a list of common foods associated with Samhain. Learn about the tradition and lore behind these foods and how you can incorporate them into your own craft.
This herb has various Samhain uses. It is a common plant that was used in remembering the dead, and can be used this holiday as you remember your ancestors. Rosemary is also useful in dispelling negative energies. Placing a bunch of rosemary above the doorway/threshold of the home was thought to prevent evil sprits from entering.
Apples were a food of immortality, giving them an association with Samhain. Cut an apple in half and you see five seeds or a pentacle, which is a symbolic pagan symbol representing the elements (fire, earth, air, water, and ether). Apples were also powerful divination tool. Associated with love, many of the fortune telling revolved around marriage. One method of fortune telling was to peel an apple into one long piece. When the peel comes off, it was dropped on the floor. The letter it forms was the first initial of that person’s true love’s name. Other methods involved apple bobbing and seeing your future lover’s reflection in the water. Apple cider can also be used in Samhain rituals.
Pumpkin, Gourds, Turnips
These harvest vegetables were carved into jack-o-lanterns. Lit and placed in window sills, they warded off unwanted spirits from entering people’s homes. Turnips were traditionally used in Ireland, where the pagan Celts celebrated Samhain. When practices came to North America, pagans used the pumpkin instead, as it was the common vegetable in the region. Use pumpkins and turnips in your craft today as items of protection.
Walnuts, Hazelnuts & Chestnuts
Popular in divination games of future love and romance. In one game, two nuts were placed over the fire, symbolizing a pair of lovers. The rate at which they burned determined their success as a couple. If one burned slowly, it showed trust and loyalty, but if it popped, that person was not to be trusted. Hazelnuts were associated with divine wisdom and were a popular nut that was used.
Any crops still in the field on Samhain were considered taboo and left as offerings to the Nature spirits. These typically were fall crops such as corn, gourds, and dark leafy greens. Create your own cornucopia as an offering to the spirits, or add these ingredients to a soup and use it for a Samhain spell/ritual.
Allspice is associated with prosperity and good fortune. Since Samhain marks the end of the year, many spells were cast to aid in a prosperous new year ahead. Use Allspice in similar type spells this Samhain.
Bread & Grain
With the grains from the previous harvest of Mabon, many pagans would use the wheat to make flour and bread. Fortunate telling with bread was popular as well. Baking bread, if someone’s loaf came out burnt it would mean bad fortune to come for their upcoming year. Ales made of malted barley were also popular for Samhain feasts, as these grains were common and available at this time.