The subject of Halloween vs. Samhain (sow' -en) has been debated repeatedly. Is one holiday just an older version of the other? Is one a mocking tribute to a sacred black sabbat? The answer to both questions is probably no.
Halloween is the fun-filled, secular holiday where people get to don costumes, play pranks, beg for candy and entertain their macabre side. The word Halloween is a shortened form of All Hallows Even (the day before All Hallows Day). I love Halloween! Not only does it take place during my favorite season (fall), but it packs one heck of a level of shock value.
Samhain is a Pagan sabbat. It marks the end of summer and the beginning of winter. In my opinion, Scott Cunningham described it best:
"Samhain is a time of reflection, of looking back over the last year, of coming to terms with the phenomenon of life over which we have no control - death. The Wicca feel that on this night the separation between the physical and spiritual realities is thin. Wiccans remember their ancestors and all those who have gone before."
Personally, I celebrate both Halloween and Samhain. During the month of October, I plan, carve, decorate and scare with my family. The day of Halloween, after the kids are in bed and things are winding down, I take the time out to remember the people who have passed before me.
How about you? Do you celebrate Halloween, Samhain or both?