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Lillian Li

Samhain celebration in Ireland

Ireland: Samhain

October 31, 2019

Although Halloween is widely celebrated in the U.S., Halloween, like most American traditions, originated elsewhere. Halloween has links to a variety of ancient festivals across many cultures, one of which is the ancient pagan holiday called Samhain. Celebrated by Celtics in Ireland and Scotland, Samhain created the basis for what is now known as Halloween when Irish immigrants moved to America in the 1800s.



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Still celebrated today by the Irish, the Scottish and modern pagans and witches alike, Samhain signifies the end of the harvest season and the beginning of winter. Every evening of Oct. 31, it’s believed the division between the mortal realm and the realm of the dead will be at its weakest, and spirits will roam the world of the living—ergo, the tradition of burning massive bonfires, making turnip lanterns, leaving offerings to appease and/or ward off the dead. Additionally, children often went out with a disguise on the night of Samhain in an attempt to blend them in with the roaming spirits. 

Perhaps the best representation of Samhain’s survival in modern times (and it’s fusion with Halloween) is the Samhain festivities in Derry, Ireland. Derry, a historic city, to begin with, has made its name as one of the best Halloween celebrations in the world, with a seven-day, city-wide celebration that honors the 400-year-old city walls that both make up and protect Derry. There are a tremendous amount of activities and events that engulf the city during this time of year, from a Halloween parade to historic haunted trails around Derry to “awaken the walls.”  With revelry fit for family outings, thrill-seekers and so much more, every year Samhain and Halloween in Derry attracts visitors from around the world.

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