Samhain is my favourite esbat. Celebrated on October 31st, Samhain is more widely known as Halloween. It is also the pagan New Year. Samhain is the third and last harvest festival in the pagan calendar, also called the Apple Harvest. It is a time of gathering in, retreating, drawing inwards. Samhain is a time of looking back over what is past, and is thus seen as an important time of year for seeking guidance from ancestors and others who have passed beyond the veil.
A modern Halloween celebration has many links to the pagan festival, and both can be easily incorporated into one. Carved Jack O’Lanterns symbolise both the late-harvested crops, but also speak of the spirits walking the realm of the living on Samhain night. Lit candles are traditionally placed in windows to light the way for wandering spirits, and apples buried as offerings for the departed. Costumes were originally introduced to confuse the “evil” spirits, but for me they are just a great fun way to celebrate a significant festival.
Happy New Year!