Since Halloween fell on Wednesday this year, and the boys are still little enough to be pretty cranky if you try to let them stay up late....especially if its a mostly adult thing they're staying up for....we celebrated Samhain on Sunday.
This year's group was back down to "the usual" friends/family- a gathering of 9 including the kids. Not the extended group we had experimented with last year. It had just gotten too crazy.
Samhain is one holiday I have maintained tradition with for about 10-12 years now. I use the same ritual every year - it's one that the friends I started celebrating with had adapted for use with their kids. It's short and to the point - and everyone gets to light at least one candle to represent the people/pets they want to remember. The celebration uses the symbols of the apple (death with the promise of rebirth - star inside when cut crosswise) and the pomegranate ( life who's shadow is death - seeds kept Persephone in Hades).
This ritual is also closely linked with dinner - so things usually go like this :
I'm busy preparing dinner and I ask my husband to print out the ritual - I know it's the one we always use, so I haven't even looked at it since last year. I run around picking the ancestor pictures from among the others around the house; try to find candles and other things we'll need for the altar...folks start arriving.
We get the ritual going around the dinner table and are calling directions when I remember that South and West are switched from the way we usually call the directions and think - "Oh well I'll fix it for next year".
I get choked up on reading about remembering family and frieds who have passed through the veil.
Someone inevitably has trouble lighting a candle - this year it was DH who commented that his ancestors probably wanted to tell him to pay them more attention!
This year we replaced the usual candle altar - I've used an old vanity mirror/tray and free-standing votive candles for a long time. It was great if you wanted to try and scry in the patterns of the candle wax - however it was a MESS to deal with. Several years it "leaked" the candle wax onto the tablecloth below it and last year the mirror cracked when I was trying to clean it up. It's still in my holiday bucket, but this year I purchased a candle chandelier which can hang or sit on the table - each candle is enclosed in glass. We sat it on the table during ritual and then hung it from the ceiling while we moved on to dinner.
We set the usual ancestor spot and gave them a little of everything we were having...Turkey, stuffing, pasta primavera, and cranberry apple pie. A bit more traditional than the Morroccan style Mabon celebration!
As usual it was good food, good friends and a celebration of the season. Right now, the boys don't participate much - even as far as listening to the stories of their grandparents & great-grandparents, but it is good practice for years when they will finally take an interest and ask questions about those who have gone before us and who played such an inportant role in making us who we are today.
Another thing to mention in relation to the holiday, serendipity etc...
We had recieved a forecast for the first frost - for Sunday or Monday night, so - appropriately - I went out Sunday with the ladies and we harvested the last of the tomatoes and peppers in the garden - two large baskets of green and lightly-colored tomatoes and a couple of bell peppers.