Halloween or Samhain?

I recently watched a video on Youtube where the expert in the film kept pronouncing Samhain as it looks… Sam-hain. An easy mistake to make, you might think, and I would agree. But not if you profess yourself to be something of an expert on the subject. Then you have a duty to get it right. He should have known better.

If you don’t already know, it’s pronounced like this… sau-win. Don’t you think it sounds so much better?

I’ve written about Halloween and Samhain so many times, but don’t worry, I’m not going to repeat myself again. But for all my new followers, here are links to the existing posts, which you probably haven’t as yet read. On the big day itself, I will have something new and spooktacular for you, I promise.

Enjoy the season, and Happy Half-Term, if you’re off! ๐Ÿ˜œ

Samhain | The Original Halloween

For our ancient ancestors, the day began not with the arrival of dawn, but with the fall of dusk. Therefore, Samhainย (pronounced sau-win, and believed to derive from the Old Irish sam,ย meaning โ€˜summerโ€™, and fuin, meaning โ€˜endโ€™) began on the evening of 31st October, and continued until dusk on November 1st. Similarly, their New Year began with the arrival of the dark season, Winter, not halfway through it, as ours does today. Some say this equates with a belief that life is born into the light from the darkness of the womb.


Tlachtga | Goddess of Earth and Fire

At Tlachtga, I felt a great sense of peace. I know you will say itโ€™s because it all happened so long ago, in fact, probably never happened at all, because these are just ancient stories. But I think forgiveness washes a place clean, floods it with peacefulness and makes it wholesome again.

It didnโ€™t even feel like a hill, but as I walked out onto the summit, I was amazed at the wide open 360* panorama which unfolded around me. From here, other famous ancient sites can be seen, if you know where to look, such as Tara (19kms), Loughcrew, Slane (23kms) and Teltown (12kms).

An Irish Ghost Story for Halloween | Sabina of Ross Castle

My father was not known for his kindliness; the Black Baron, they called him, and with good reason. He couldn’t abide lawlessness, demanded obedience, and ruled with an iron hand.

That grim, grey castle was not the place for a young girl to grow up in. For the most part, I was left alone, save for my poor governess. I was always tricking her with false errands, that I might escape her sharp eyes and those unforgiving walls.

Human Skull with silver Crown

Samhain Legends | Donn, Lord of the Dead

As far as we can tell, the ancient Irish people ย never had a God of the Dead. The Otherworld was said to be the domain of Manannรกn, God of the Sea, but the myths and legends do not tell of him being a God of the Dead. However, there is someone, a mere mortal, who has come to be associated with this role.

Aillen of the Sidhe sprays fire from his mouth upon the roof of Tara.A Samhain Story | Fionn mac Cumhall and the Sidhe-Prince of Flame

โ€œTomorrow is the eve of Samhain,โ€ whispered the Filidh, the High Kingโ€™s Royal Bard. The crowd stilled, straining to hear through the smoky atmosphere of the Kingโ€™s hall.

It was the night before Halloween. As always, the High King had invited all his favourite nobles to celebrate the festival at Tara. They crowded his hall, feasting at his table. The air was thick with smoke from the hearth fires, the scent of candles, the aroma of roasting meat, chatter, music and song. Now, when bellies were full and hunger sated, folk sat back and turned to their cups. It was time for the storyteller to weave his magic.

A Witches LamentA Poem for Samhain | A Witches Lament

They hide the truth,

these gaudy costumes,

the carved lanterns,

the trick or treat…

A Samhain Poem | The Princess on the Hill

She lies upon the hill, ragged and torn,

Borne of the night her three sons bold.

Told a story heartless and cruel,

Fuel for revenge of an act most foul…

warrior-2A Samhain Story| Lugh, Master of All Arts

Lugh hammered loudly on the palace gates, his men gathered about him. They had been travelling many days, and darkness would soon be falling. They had no intention of spending yet another night sleeping on the hard ground with just their cloaks to warm them.

โ€œBe off with you!โ€ someone shouted down to them from the shadows atop of the palisade wall. โ€œThe gates to the Kingโ€™s palace are closed for the night. We are accepting no visitors this Samhain Eve.โ€

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39 Comments on “Halloween or Samhain?

  1. Pingback: Halloween or Samhain? โ€” aliisaacstoryteller | Working Holiday Ireland

  2. Pingback: Forget #Halloween Here’s 6 Reasons The Publishing Industry is Terrifying | Sacha Black

  3. Um. I don’t know what to say about that. Except…that’s embarrassing and, yes, he should have known better. Looking forward to your post and will take a peek at a few of these that I’ve missed. Happy Halloween/Samhain!

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Thanks for the links, Ali. I found I’ve read most of them already, but have marked the rest to read. Yes, sau-win sounds much better than Sam-hain.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Agreed Ali, when people claim to be experts on Irish spirituality, or when someone is being paid to read a book on Audible and they pronounce Samhain wrong I want to throw the article or book across the room because I feel like I’ve just been insulted. Problem is, the book/article is on a computer which would be far too expensive to throw. ๐Ÿ™‚ The word is totally not intuitive, and I definitely pronounced it incorrectly at the first pagan ritual I went to: and then apologized immediately when I realized I’d offended some people. I just wish that companies like Audible would take the time to find people who actually know how to pronounce whatever language besides English the book they are professionally reading is also written in. That’s just common courtesy, common sense. And it would be nice if people making public youtube videos would do a bit of research too. Okay stepping off my soapbox! I hope you are well!

    And I’m so sorry, I still can’t like wordpress posts and none of the support forums are shedding light on why. The like button used to be a link that my screen reader could recognize. Now it’s just text, with no way to nonvisually activate it.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Hi ร‰ilis! Lovely to hear from you! Don’t worry, I love it when you’re on your soapbox, and you are absolutely right, couldnt agree more! Have you contacted the Happiness engineers about your wp issue? So annoying. People are reporting all kinds of glitches with wp lately. I got no blog post notifications to my email this week. Other people have their comments going into spam. Maybe its the season… mischievous spirits getting into the machine! ๐Ÿ˜๐Ÿ˜‚๐Ÿ˜ƒ


  6. Ooh, looking forward to checking out all these posts! I love the Halloween season and Samhain, and I’m always up for learning more about them ๐Ÿ™‚


      • That seems to be the fate of many traditional festivities. But luckily there are people like you who remember (and rimind us) what the real meaning of the season is ๐Ÿ™‚

        Liked by 1 person

  7. A little feast of temptations to draw us into the Samhain myths.Thanks Ali, it’s always a pleasure to immerse myself in your writings.
    xxx Massive Hugs xxx

    Liked by 1 person

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