Tuesday, 5 October 2021

Book Review: Samhain - The Roots of Halloween

Samhain: The Roots of Halloween, is a fascinating new book about Samhain - the Ancient Irish festival at the end of October. It also looks at Samhain's connection to Halloween, which takes place on the eve of the Catholic feast day of All Hallows. In the book, pagan author Luke Eastwood searches for archaeological, historical, folkloric and literary evidence of what really went on in Samhain customs in the past. 

Many previous historians have stated that Samhain wasn't originally a festival that honoured the dead, but that it was instead more a secular celebration at the end of summer and start of winter.  However, Luke Eastwood finds evidence that ancestors and otherworldly beings were honoured at Samhain in Ireland. He also traces ways that Irish people carried their traditions to other parts of the world, especially America, where their customs blended with those of other people from different cultures.

Here's the blurb: 

"The modern celebration of Halloween is derived from the ancient festival of the dead known in Ireland as Samhain. It is from Ireland that we have inherited most of our Halloween traditions, mainly through the diaspora. Delving into the ancient past, this book uncovers the history of this festival in Britain, Ireland and Brittany, including the forgotten goddess Tlachtga and the sacred temple of the Druids in Co. Meath, where the first Halloween fires were lit."
The book is published this week, but I was lucky enough to read a pre-release copy. I’ve read it and it’s fascinating. While I don't think the book is likely to end all arguments about the origins of our modern-day Halloween customs, I do strongly recommend it for an in-depth look at what has now been discovered about Ancient Irish Samhain. 


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