WHAT IS SAMHAIN?
A Blog By: Ann Dolbier
God created humankind ……. God blessed them, and said to them …….. ” See I have given you every plant, yielding seed that is upon the face of all the earth.” Gen 1:27-30
It is difficult to find words to describe the season at the end of summer the Celtic peoples called Samhain. For me it is mostly about feelings. Since childhood and until recently, I have always had a garden. Even if it was just a patch of earth next to the building or a batch of flower pots on a deck. The ones I cherish most are the herbs that produce wonderful aromas when touched. So those memories, etched on my brain, are easily awakened by the smell of dill or basil at the farmers markets. Now that I live inside a concrete box I wonder how folks growing up and living in multi-unit hives have the chance to develop the senses that connect us to creation.
Before our modern transportation system could deliver fresh foods to the market year-round, late summer was the only time you tasted the crisp sweetness of fresh corn, moistness of watermelons, tanginess of peaches and tartness of plumbs; those foods that I longed for during the winter and even into Spring. As the heat of the sun begins to abate, the late summer and fall begin to feel gentler and more comforting. The gardener is rewarded with an abundance of summer squashes, cucumbers and tomatoes.
As a kid this season was when Gramma made her wonderful fruit topped kuchen and we began to preserve the abundance of creation for the cold, dark days ahead. It was a busy, demanding time but I don’t remember it being a burden squishing ripe red tomatoes into those now outdated aqua canning jars; sitting on the back-porch shelling hundreds of peas for freezing; reviewing pickle recipes in my great grandmother’s handwriting and best of all snitching salted cabbage from the crock before it turned into sauerkraut.
Samhain is an experiential season. You taste it, you feel it, you touch it, smell it and see it. It is a time of blessing and thanksgiving. For me it raises a primal need to preserve something. I didn’t last year, and things weren’t quite right all year without at least one jar of something preserved in the cupboard. So, this week I made my favorite Bread and Butter Pickles and tomato and peach preserves. As in previous years the jars, looking like jewels, will sit on the counter awhile because they make me feel like all is right in the world.