Hey, Jess..Help! Samhain Vs. Halloween

Can I celebrate Halloween?

Can I celebrate Halloween?

What’s up, babes?!  Today I’m excited to officially kick off the start of the Hey, Jess advice feature!  I get so many awesome emails with questions from you guys about magic, spirit and heart-centered biz that I’ve been gathering them up to start this awesome new series of posts.

Basically you write in to me with your questions and I’ll write a post for the world to answer your question.  Why a blog post?  Because I can guarantee that if you have this question someone else has it to.  So why not help others while helping yourself!

This week’s question comes from Amanda:

Hey Jess!  I need some help understanding Samhain and Halloween.

I’m new to Paganism and in the last year have started to embrace Wicca as a path that I think I would like to fully commit to.  I’ve read so much about how you’re supposed to study for a year and a day before really doing anything, and I’ve mostly been doing that, but now I’m ready to try out celebrating a holiday.  Since Samhain is coming and it’s the Witch’ New Year I thought this was the best time for me to get started at this level.

However, I’m confused.  I’m in a few different Wiccan Facebook Groups and I keep being told I’m not supposed to celebrate or even talk about Halloween.  Someone told me that Halloween is a bastardization of the Wiccan holiday of Samhain and that if I tell people I’m celebrating Halloween I’m likely going to have people not take me seriously as a Wiccan.

The problem is I have two small children, 4 and 6, and you know what? We celebrate Halloween!  I’m not going to deny my kids Halloween because I choose to be Wiccan.  I’m also still young myself really since I’m only 28 and I go out for Halloween with my girlfriends every year to go to a costume party at a club in LA.  Do I have to skip that now?

Sorry for the long rant, but I’m wondering what I should do.  I understand that Halloween isn’t the same as Samhain but do I have to stop celebrating Halloween if I decide to be Wiccan?

HELP!  Thanks!


Hi, Amanda!

Thank you for your email and your question.  Let me just start out by saying that it’s things like these that made me run away from traditional Wicca and become a solitary practitioner for many years before I finally just gave up on organized Paganism altogether.

I bet you’re like a lot of people.  You came to Wicca because you heard how it wasn’t dogmatic and how you could be free to follow the path that you were called to and blah blah blah and then showed up and got a bit of a bait and switch.

Let me first tell you that if you start finding people are flat out telling you what you can and cannot believe or do, bail!  

The only exception to that is if you’ve voluntarily chosen to be part of a specific tradition with specific practices.  That isn’t the case you have here; here you just have some high and might Facebook Pagans trying to tell a newbie “how it is”.  All they are really telling you is how it truly isn’t.

First off, yes, you can celebrate Halloween and be Wiccan.

Halloween and Samhain are two separate holidays.  One is secular {Halloween} while one is spiritual in nature {Samhain}.  One honors the dead {Samhain} and one honors candy {Halloween}.

Halloween has taken many things from Samhain as well as other pre-Christian agricultural community harvest celebrations.  But the Halloween we know today is truly a modern invention who’s ties to Samhain are becoming more and more distant.

When Halloween comes and you want to dress up and party with your friends, do it.  When it’s time to take your kids trick-or-treating and dress them up in some cute costumes, do it.  Being Wiccan has nothing to do with whether or not you can celebrate this secular holiday with your friends and family.

I think what these people were really trying to get across, which they did very poorly, is that you need to make sure you’re making the distinction between the two holidays.  There are a lot of new Wiccans, Pagans and Witches that have a tendency to use the words Halloween and Samhain interchangeably or who consider them to be the same thing.

Keep them separate in mind and celebration.  When you mean to talk about Halloween call it Halloween, not Samhain.  And remember basically Samhain is the reason for the season, to borrow a phrase.  Be sure that you take time to remember your ancestors and leave sweet treats and offerings for them after midnight on the 31st.


Here are a few Halloween and Samhain themed posts that might also be helpful:

10 Halloween Fun Facts
Ask A Witch – Special Edition…It’s Samhain!
Into Samhain Night…

And if you’re looking for a way to get started with learning more about Samhain and one of the many ways to celebrate this special night, check out my Celebrating Samahin e-Kit.

samhainkit copy

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