Autumn is synonymous with Halloween, which was traditionally Samhain in Scotland. Samhain was one of the four main festivals of the Gaelic calendar, it marks Summer’s end. During Samhain bonfires were traditionally lit on hilltops in Scotland.
The Samhain bonfires were traditionally lit on the evening on the 31st October. It marked the end of the light half of the year and the beginning of the Celtic new year or the dark half of the year. Sacred fires were a big part of the cleansing of the old year and a method to prepare for the coming new year. Feasts were held and bonfires were lit throughout the countryside. The bonfires were to warm friendly spirits and ward off evil spirits, and also represented the sun, which they wished would return, bringing heat and growth.
I do mark Samhain on 31st Oct/1st Nov in my own way but not by lighting a massive bonfire on the hills where I live! So for me, our modern day Bonfire Night in the UK, which falls on or around the 5th Nov, is still a time to mark Samhain and reflect.
As autumn starts to move towards winter, like most people, I tend to spend less time outdoors, appreciating nature. Bonfire night is a time to spend outdoors, embracing the darkness that has come upon us. I support a Bonfire Night at a local village. A massive bonfire is lit in the community field. This fire is amazingly beautiful and powerful and you cannot help but be affected by the tremendous heat and light is generates. After about half an hour there is then an amazing firework display, where I stand in awe, watching the dark night sky being magically lit. It is a time for me to embrace the darkness of the season, reflect on the year and prepare and look forward to the future.
The feeling of getting wrapped up in warm clothes and being outdoors for the evening is wonderful. It’s also a great excuse to make some hearty, warming foods and drinks to welcome you home when you return indoors.
These are the foods I am planning to make for our supper –
Do you mark Bonfire Night, where you live? If so what do you do? If not, do have another tradition that involves the lighting of community bonfires?