A Samhain Celebration

pumpkin-carving, mask-making, and honoring the dead

Lauren Fisher, photos by Taylor Smith

The Broom and Crow will welcome people of all faiths to explore and celebrate Samhain (pronounced “sow-wen”) on Saturday, Oct. 27. The event, geared toward children but open to all ages, will feature mask-making and pumpkin carving, and an opportunity to learn about the third Pagan harvest celebration, a time of honoring the dead and looking forward to rebirth.

“What I’m hoping will happen will be forging and understanding. I really believe in education and I think if I’m honest about who I am, it will do that.”
Tabatha Voss, Broom and Crow

Many modern Halloween traditions are evolutions of the rituals Pagans used to interact with the dead following the final harvests of the season, said Tabatha Voss, owner of the Broom and Crow and practicing Pagan. It is a time to give thanks when the plants begin to die and animals are slaughtered for food to eat throughout winter. It is believed that the veil between the world of the living and that of the dead is thinnest at this time, which lends opportunity for humans to communicate with their loved ones who have passed on, and for malignant spirits to cause trouble for the living. There is wide variation in the traditions and rituals different practitioners observe.

In Ireland, Pagan Celts carved hollows into turnips and gave them faces, then placed embers inside them and put them outside to ward off evil spirits. During Irish immigration to the United States, where pumpkins were available, people began using them for the practice. Another way to protect oneself against harm by spirits was to wear masks, preventing them from recognizing a human’s presence.

“What I’m hoping will happen will be forging an understanding,” Voss said. “I really believe in education and I think if I’m honest about who I am, it will do that.” Voss plans on teaching guests about Samhain rituals in this casual setting.

“What I want people to take away is that Samhain is about honoring your ancestors,” Voss said. It’s also about balance between life and death, and appreciating that balance. Voss intends to set up an alter where visitors can leave offerings to honor their own loved ones who have died. “It doesn’t have to be scary,” she continued. “People don’t have to be afraid of what Samhain is.”

All-Day Samhain Party at The Broom & Crow • Saturday, Oct. 27, noon-8pm • 106 E. Grand Ave., Eau Claire.