Samhain, pronounced Sahvin, is the Celtic New Year. It falls on October 31st to November 1st, and it’s where we get many of our Halloween traditions. As an author of Celtic Fantasy Romance novels, my favorite holiday is Samhain or as some say Halloween.
The Celts believed that the veil between worlds was at its thinnest on Samhain. The dead easily crossed into our earthly dimension and were honored by their living kith and kin, who left plates of food out for deceased relatives, visiting for Samhain.
Samhain was celebrated with games, (like hurling, foot races, and horse races) a rowdy feast, and a massive, blazing bonfire. In Ireland, druids held the Samhain celebration and lit the great fire at Tlachtga each year, about 12 miles from Tara.
Turnips, apples, and hazelnuts were popular food for Samhain. The ancient Celts carved out mangel-wurzels, a type of turnip, and placed tallow inside to use them as Samhain lanterns. The Celt’s believed that on Samhain, a type of shapeshifting fey—puca in Gaelic (pwca in Welsh and bucca in Cornish) spit on any unharvested apples rendering them inedible. That’s why the ancient Celts picked all the apples before the Samhain feast began. So, don’t buy any apples picked after Halloween, those puca could still be creeping around the orchards. Hazelnuts ripened in Autumn and were believed to impart wisdom as well as strength to anyone who ate them. Maybe I should try some hazelnuts and see if that works. Since Samhain was the end of the autumn season, any of the livestock (cows, sheep, pigs) deemed unlikely to make it through the coming winter were slaughtered at this time. So, there was a bounty of delicious boiled and roasted meat to feast on. And of course, there was plenty of heady ale or mead to go around.
My Samhain romance is The Wolf And The Druidess.
In days of old, deep in the dark woods, Druidess Seren discovers a wolf shapeshifting into the bare, muscular Celtic God, Gwydion. Seren's mind turns from the Samhain feast to wicked thoughts of Gwydion's gorgeous body Is the love Gwydion and Seren share strong enough to overcome barriers between an immortal god and a mortal woman? Or will a warning of danger from beyond the grave destroy the sensual magic brewing between the wolf and the druidess?
Samhain is also the festival of Caer Ibormeith, a goddess from Irish mythology, who was turned into a swan. Rhiannon is her closest equivalent in Brythonic mythology. Her story is told in the first part of the Mabinogion. So, Moon Goddess Wife, a romance, mystery, and fantasy about Rhiannon is also a fun Samhain read.
From Welsh myth springs the tale of Rhiannon and Pwyll. Chief Pwyll's life is changed forever the day Goddess Rhiannon rides pass him on her magic horse. Forbidden romance smolders between the goddess and the chieftain. With the use of an enchanted bag, Rhiannon breaks free of an unwanted betrothal. Happily, she weds Pwyll, but a harrowing mystery tears them apart. Will Pwyll’s suspicion and duty as chieftain prevail or will love win out?