Fall · Feasts

Unlocking Traditions: Samhain Sabbat

My husband, Brendan, loves Halloween. He always has grand plans to deck the house out as a mini haunted house for the neighborhood to enjoy, with him as the main character laying in wait to spook each passerby.

Usually, we run out of time from the amount of time he spends on the costumes and panic turn on some spooky sounds.

I feel bad for him sometimes because Halloween always seems to sneak up on us. We have crushed Brau’s costume six years in a row, and to be fair, he was doing an amazing job before I came along.

Brendan is great at costumes. He’s great at sewing. Far better than I am. Which makes some of the old ladies at Johann’s Fabric confused. They turn to me to ask for measurements and when I go “uhhhhh” and Brendan starts to answer them, you’d roll your eyes at the shock they feel.

I mean, I have, at least.

But he hasn’t been able to dress up the way he wanted for the past few years – adulthood and responsibility seem to get in the way. I vowed not to let that happen this year – and then there was a pandemic. And we both lost our jobs.


I know Samhain and Halloween are culturally different.

In this household, we’ve decided to celebrate both. We decided that instead of continuing to celebrate the Christian holidays we no longer feel connected to, we’d find new ways to create celebrations for our families.

After much research, we landed on the Celtic feasts and celebrations. We’re still new to this. Still building our religion so to speak. But this year was a lot of fun. And I can only imagine it will get better with time.

The Celebration

We celebrated the week leading up to Samhain with a menu that relied heavily on the traditional flavors of fall.

My Harvest Soup.

Traditional Soul Cakes.

This fantastic Chicken Normandy Recipe.

Pomegranate Pork Loin with Cabbage (from my favorite place on the internet: DALS).

And on Samhain Sabbat, my husband made this Incredible Recipe from NPR of Stuffed Pumpkin. I made a loaf of Brack and a simple salad.

It was divine.

Each night, we set an extra place for the spirits, lit one white and one black candle, and said the following:

“May the turning of the seasons bring us joy. As we call upon the past and celebrate the veil that thins between worlds, we watch the light turn to dark and the cycle end, only to be inevitably renewed.”

That night, we burned some sage (not white sage), and toasted one another and talked about relatives we’ve lost and people we missed, and left a few soul cakes out on the porch. They were gone in the morning (Thanks, Raccoons!)

It was a night we loved. And a night we hope to share with others when the sun comes back this way.

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