halloween and samhain

Halloween and Samhain

October 10, 2017
BY: Domhnall O'Cathain

When folks talk about the Irish festivals celebrated in America, the conversation usually goes straight to St. Patrick’s Day, parades, corned beef, cabbage and Guinness. We Irish are certainly proud of that.

What you probably don’t know is that we also brought you Halloween!

Samhain Is a Part Of Halloween’s History

The ancient Gaelic festival of Samhain (Sow-In) was a busy time. With shorter days, wetter weather, and colder temperatures lying ahead, the cows were brought in for the winter and fires were lit throughout the land. It was also a time where the Sioga (She-O-Ga) “fairies” and other souls were expected to visit from the other world. In anticipation for the visitors, food and drinks were left at the door step.

Between then and now, the world has changed and become more colorful. That tradition from Celtic pagan times now inspires my children to dress up in New Jersey as gumball machines, Jake the Neverland Pirate, and a cat! On the other hand, in Irish mythology, it was reported that children were offered as a sacrifice(!), such was the fear of the people from the other side.

Nowadays, my children are more likely to offer me up as a sacrifice for a bar of candy.

Halloween Can Be Truly Spooky

More seriously, Halloween can be a scary time as a parent.

With so many new items on the shelves, we don’t always know what we are buying. A few years ago, a Halloween themed mini projection light for children that was manufactured by Atico was recalled because it overheated and melted in the hands of kids. Last year, Target recalled 6 kinds of Halloween themed gels that cling to windows because the batteries were coming out and becoming a clear choking hazard.

The Consumer Product Safety Commission highlights 5 things that we should consider for Halloween Safety:

  1. Treats – they should be examined first by adults for evidence of tampering
  2. Flame Resistant Costumes – avoid costumes that are flimsy and baggy. Purchase costumes that are labeled as flame resistant.
  3. Costume Designs –  make them visible to motorists
  4. Pedestrian Safety – kids should be accompanied by adults. And be careful between cars and on lawns with ornaments
  5. Safe Houses – only go to homes with the lights turned on where the adult knows who lives there

Click here for the CPSC’s full Halloween safety tips report

By following these guidelines, maybe we can reduce the boo boos so that no bodies will be coffin up money for other souls.