Galicia defends Samaín as the real origin of Halloween

Calabazas Samaín

Elements such as the Santa Compaña, the cruceiros(stone crosses) that can be seen throughout Galicia, and the druids’ role are all part of the Galician tradition linked to the Night of the Dead ever since time began.  

Estrella Galicia has decided to contribute to the spreading of one of the deeply rooted legends in Galician culture, and has set in motion a campaign to raise awareness about Samaín throughout Galicia.

Calabazas Samaín

Halloween in Spain seems to have found its place, and invades our lives with its particular aesthetics on the last week of October. However, in Galicia we have decided to take a step forward to defend the Celtic tradition of Samaín as the real origin of the worldwide known Halloween.

Galician streets have seen an increase in favouring Galician customs over foreign customs, and even our brand Estrella Galicia has launched a campaign  to raise awareness about Samaín, one of the most deeply rooted Galician myths since ancestral times.

This festivity, also know as Noche de Brujas(Witches’ Night), Noche de Muertos(Night of the Dead) or Víspera de Difuntos(Eve of the Dead), is celebrated in Spain following the American tradition from just a few years ago, but it is widely known that the Santa Compaña, a procession of the dead that walks in silence and from whom we can protect ourselves by standing next to the cruceiros(large stone crosses), has been part of Galician mythology for centuries, inherited from ancestral Celtic legends and deeply set in the collective imagination.

Getting to know Samaín a little better.

Samaín comes from the Gaelic term “samhain” which meant “end of summer” and it was precisely held to celebrate that: the change from the warm to the cold season, and the end of the harvest.

For the Celts, this was the last day of the year and they called it “a noite dos calacús” (the night of the pumpkins), days during which the doors to the afterlife were opened and spirits invaded the world of the living for just a few hours. Ever since then, bonfires were lit and skulls were put on view in order to frighten them away.

Another of the Galician traditions on that night was to not clear the table so that should souls come to visit while hungry they would have food to eat. The fire would also be kept alive so they wouldn’t be cold.

Druids played an important part on the night of Samaín as they would practise certain rites with the aim of offering predictions about different matters of general interest to all. They also went round to people’s houses knocking on doors and asking for food to offer the gods, which seemingly would be the origin of the well-known American “trick or treat”.

All these elements that are part of the Galician tradition have once again been brought to life thanks to the work carried out by a number of associations and brands such as Estrella Galicia that has made it its goal to increase people’s knowledge about Samaín. Galicians have decided to strongly defend their Night of the Dead with the aim of their tradition being acknowledged and making it something to be proud of. Who knows? Perhaps in a few years’ time, everyone in Spain may be celebrating Samaín instead of Halloween.

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