I am posting this article to amend some of my previous article about the Day of the Dead to make it more relevant to those of us who live in the Southern Hemisphere and also to acknowledge more deeply it’s Celtic origins.
I participated in a SWEAT LODGE ceremony the other night, facilitated by SOTEMS, a wonderful community dedicated to healing practices in Australia, of which I am a member of. This particular ceremony was a seasonal sweat held to celebrate the Celtic festival of SAMHAIN. (Celtic literal meaning: end of Summer & pronounced SOW-an or SOW-in)
The festivals of Halloween, All Hallows day and All Saints Day originate from the festival of Samhain. The festival falls nearest to the midpoint between the Autumnal EQUINOX and the Winter SOLSTICE, which in the Northern hemisphere falls around the evening of October 31, and in the Southern hemisphere falls around the evening of April 30- May 1. (though if you want to be absolutely accurate it’s good to visit this site to get a grasp of the natural fluctuating dates of the equinoxes, soltices & midway points.)
Samhain is a festival of the harvest and a festival of the dead. A place was often set at the feast table for the dead and tales of the ancestors were told on that night. It marked the time to take stock of one’s supplies in order to get through the winter months.
An important aspect of the Samhain festival once was the central druid bonfire. The people of the village would solemnly light their own hearths from the bonfire, symbolising their connection and bonds to one another.
The Samhain and the Day of the Dead ceremonies are really seasonal specific. Their meaning is strongly linked to nature and should be celebrated at the correct time according to which hemisphere you live in.
So if you are under the Southern skies in 2008, according to this calendar you should be celebrating Samhain, contacting your dear departed or having your Day of the Dead feasts on May 1