Though it is not a universally observed holiday, many people – particularly those in North America and parts of both Europe and Oceania – tend to associate October 31st with Halloween.
Since its birth at the turn of the twentieth century, Hollywood has done much to not only further shape our impressions of, and feelings towards, Halloween, but also to spread awareness of it to countries where this late October celebration has not traditionally been observed.
In more recent decades, the internet has done its part there as well and these days it is safe to say that a sizable percentage of the world’s population has at least a passing awareness of All Hallows’ Eve – whether they opt to observe it themselves or not.
However, Halloween is not the only special celebration that takes place for some people on October 31st.
For many, though not all, Pagans, Wiccans and witches, the tail end of the year’s tenth month ushers in the return of Samhain.
This sacred event is one of eight annual sabbats that comprise The Wheel of The Year.
Samhain is generally seen, in the Northern Hemisphere, as the start of that very wheel. It is a date that is held in the highest reverence by many who observe it.
In this post, we will be exploring 31 quotes – one for each day of October – that are ideally suited to The Witches’ New Year that is Samhain.
Some of them make for excellent Halloween quotes as well. 😃
Each of these Samhain quotes appears here both in text and in image form, allowing you to pin them to Pinterest, share them on Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, or any other social media platform you’d like, or repost them on your own website.
First though, let’s take a quick gander at the history of Samhain, what Samhain is about, when Samhain is observed, and why some magickally inclined folks consider Samhain to be the Witches’ New Year. 🎉
What is Samhain?
With roots stretching back to the ancient Celts, Samhain is today a modern Neopagan-based festival that can be observed either in a religious/spiritual context or secularly.
Samhain is the last of the three Neopagan harvest sabbats (with the other two being Lammas in August and Mabon in September). It is widely acknowledged as an observance that ushers in the dark half of the year.
Many who connect with Samhain strongly believe that this sabbat is a highly liminal time and as such, the veil between the physical world of the living and that of the departed in the Otherworld is at its very thinnest point of the entire year.
As a result, powerful themes pertaining both to life and death, connecting to and honouring one’s ancestors, the traditional end of the harvest season, and embracing the dark half of the year feature prominently in the Samhain practices of many Pagans and witches from a broad range of paths and traditions.
It is important to keep in mind that not all Pagans, Wiccans and witches celebrate Samhain in the same ways.
Variations on themes, practices, offerings and other factors are widespread, with many Pagans and witches weaving traditional Samhain elements with more contemporary components of 21st-century spirituality and witchery into their sabbat celebrations.
A brief history of Samhain
Samhain has a long and fascinating history, of which, for the sake of brevity, an in-depth look at is beyond the scope of this post (indeed, it could easily fill multiple books!).
Early records of Samhain appear in some of the oldest written Irish texts that have survived to this day, as well as in countless oral histories and late October traditions across parts of Europe.
In particular, Samhain has long-standing ties to Ireland, Scotland, and the Isle of Man (in which is it often referred to as Sauin).
Similar Iron Age festivals transpired in other parts of the UK, including Wales, as well as in Brittany (now part of modern-day France).
In Wales, this end-of-the-harvest season event was often called Calan Gaeaf. Across the channel in Brittany, it went by Kalan Goañv.
Historically, Samhain was closely linked to the end of the harvest season, slaughtering livestock, holding ritual bonfires, various forms of divination (some of which involved that most autumnal of fruits: apples), honouring otherworldly beings such as the fae, leaving offerings for faeries and the gods (as well as, in some cases, the departed – a tradition that would morph into the now long-standing act of holding a silent or dumb supper), and preparing for the long, cold, and often harsh winter months ahead.
Whereas the contemporary Wheel of The Year houses eight sabbats, traditionally in Gaelic lands, four key seasonal festivals were observed.
As Samhain was – and still is – viewed as a time when the souls of the departed could more easily move between each side of the veil, many Celts acknowledged and honoured the dead at Samhain.
Spirits and departed souls were sometimes seen as friendly or neutral entities, though some were also dreaded. A belief held they were capable of committing such unwanted acts as damaging crops, harming or hiding livestock, scaring people out of their wits, and haunting homes.
It is thought that some early observers of Samhain may have worn costumes and/or masks in an attempt to disguise themselves and to hide from unfriendly spirits or wee folk (such as faeries) who might not have had their best intentions at heart.
Traditionally, Samhain festivities got underway as the sun set on the evening of October 31st, lasting until either sunrise or sunset on November 1st.
Some sources state, however, that Samhain (and/or overlapping events such as the festival of the Ulaid) may have spanned as many as three, six, or even seven days.
Bonfires – known to the ancient Celts as samghnagans – were an especially integral part of early Samhain observances.
These bonfires – which would often be attended by many, if not all, members of a community – were held to be sacred.
They were often utilized to ritualistically relight hearth fires in peoples’ homes, revered for their cleansing and blessings abilities, and used as a means to burn offerings to deities.
Speaking of which, a long-standing belief persists to this day that Samhain was either a Celtic celebration in honour of the Celts’ god of the dead or that a God named Samhain was honoured at this date.
Many contemporary scholars and Pagans alike generally agree, however, that neither of these possibilities is apt to have actually been the case.
However, death was (and continues to be) a key part of Samhain observances and some etymological sources translate Samhain as meaning “summer’s end”.
The death of the warmer half of the year, the harvest season, and the months when livestock often reproduced and in turn were able to provide a greater volume of products such as eggs and milk are all elements that were acknowledged at Samhain.
While partially solemn, Samhain was also a time of merriment, feasting, and cause for celebration.
Dancing, singing, playing music, storytelling, and (as touched on above) wearing costumes all featured in early Samhain celebrations – just as they continue to do so for some observers of Samhain to this day.
As the evening of Samhain wore on, it was customary for each individual or family to take a torch-lit from the communal bonfire home with them so as to rekindle their hearth fires that had intentionally been snuffed out earlier that day.
This act was a physical way of symbolically bringing about the death of the old year and sparking life anew for the coming year ahead. In addition to acknowledging the vital role that fire would play in helping to keep people safe and warm during the lengthy, bone-chilling winter months ahead.
How do you pronounce Samhain?
As with many words that have Gaelic origins, Samhain is not pronounced the way that most English speakers would instinctively read it.
While the word reads as “Sam Hayne”, it is in fact pronounced SAH-win, SOW-in, or SOW-en by most modern English speaking Pagans and witches, as well as others (such as historians and archeologists) who are interested in this annual event.
Other names for Samhain
Over the course of history, Samhain has gone by a good many names and spelling variants. Some of which include the following Samhain names and spellings:
-Day of the Dead (Feile na Marbh; not to be confused with the separate Mexican holiday of Día de los Muertos.)
Most of these Samhain names hailed from the UK and Ireland, and the majority of them are no longer as commonplace as in centuries past.
It is still wonderfully interesting, however, to see some of the many monikers that this important harvest festival has gone by over the years.
When is Samhain?
As with each of the Neopagan sabbats that comprise The Wheel of The Year, observers are free to celebrate Samhain whenever they desire (in this case, throughout either October or November).
That said, the most common dates for Samhain are, in the Northern Hemisphere, October 30th, October 31st, November 1st, and November 2nd.
Additionally, some people choose to observe Samhain on or around either October or November’s full moon or the dark moon period of either month. With others preferring to use autumn’s first frost as the day on which they celebrate Samhain.
Transpiring in late October or early November, Samhain is roughly halfway between the Fall Equinox and the Winter Solstice – or, in Pagan terms, Mabon and Yule.
Broadly speaking, October 31st is considered Samhain’s unofficial official date.
Again though, observers are free to celebrate it on whatever date feels most fitting for them and which aligns with their particular beliefs and/or traditions.
As the sabbats appear during opposite halves of the year in the Northern and Southern hemispheres, many observers who live south of the equator celebrate Samhain on or around May 1st (which is Beltane on this side of the globe).
Are Halloween and Samhain the same thing?
A substantial amount of overlap exists between Halloween and Samhain, and both share a good many of their origins and traditions in common. However, Samhain and Halloween are technically not two words for the same observance or holiday.
While Samhain can certainly be observed secularly, for many witches and Pagans it is an extremely meaningful religious or spiritual holiday.
Halloween, on the other hand (though it actually has some Christian roots, in addition to Pagan ones), is not typically viewed by most as being a religious event.
Fascinatingly, the event we now know as Halloween stems back, in part, to the advent of Christianity in Celtic lands and to the early Church’s desire to Christianize as many of the Pagan/Celtic holidays as possible.
At that time, attempts were made by the Church to transform the observance of Samhain into a more Christian-focused remembrance of the dead.
This led in due course to the creation of All Saints Day on November 1st and All Souls Days on November 2nd.
The first honoured and celebrated saints and martyrs, whereas the latter was a time of prayer for, and reflection on, the souls of the departed (including those who may have been languishing in purgatory).
By the time that Middle English was in widespread use, two of the names for All Saints Day had become Allholowmesse and Allhallowtide. With the day prior to November 1st being designated as All Hallows’ Eve (aka, the day before Allholowmesse).
This title, which is still used to this day as a moniker for the 31st, would in time morph into the name Allhalloween/Hallowe’en/Hallow’een/Halloween.
These days, the word Halloween is most often spelt as such.
The Hallowe’en spelling endures as well though. Particularly, I’ve noticed amongst people who were currently in their sixties or older.
This stems in part from the fact that the Hallow’een and Hallowe’en spellings were often more common than that of “Halloween” prior to the mid-twentieth century.
In attempting to stamp out (or at least put a considerably more Christian spin on) Samhain, the Church may in fact have done much to preserve the traditions of Samhain and in turn to lay the groundwork for Halloween as it has been known and celebrated in recent centuries.
When you think of elements of October 31st such as trick-or-treating, scary movies, and grinning jack-o-lanterns, you are primarily calling to mind Halloween happenings (some of which trace their origins back to the ancient Celts, as well as Northern Europeans of more recent eras).
These and many others make up the classic fun, mischief, and joy that embodies Halloween.
Just about any Halloween-related activity can be woven into a Samhain observance, if one desires.
However, from a Pagan or witchery perspective, Samhain tends to be somewhat more solemn, serious, and highly focused on the dead. So important is this connection that an alternative Neopagan name for Samhain is Ancestor’s Night.
Can you celebrate both Halloween and Samhain?
Yes, absolutely! And a good many witches and Pagans (myself included) opt to observe both events.
Some do so on separate days, others (again, such as myself) observe them both on the same date: October 31st.
I have said it before, but I will happily say it again. For me personally, Samhain and Halloween are two sides of the same coin.
Each complement and support one another, deepening the observer’s connection to one via the other and vice versa.
Though today, Samhain is not commonly observed amongst those who do not identify as Pagans, Wiccans, or witches, there is technically nothing to stop anyone who wishes to do so from celebrating this annual event. Especially if they approach Samhain with the respect, understanding, and appreciation that it deserves.
Some Pagans and witches celebrate only Samhain, forgoing Halloween either entirely.
Others, particularly those who do not work with Celtic or Norse-based traditions, as well as some atheist and agnostic witches, do not observe Samhain at all. They may instead take part in Halloween happenings or opt to sit out both events.
There is no right or wrong here, simply what aligns most closely with one’s beliefs, passions, traditions, and culture.
Just as with Halloween, two of the colours that are most closely associated with Samhain are orange and black.
In the context of Samhain, orange symbolizes the last warmth of summer, the harvest season, autumn foliage, fire, and the impending return of Yule, at which time some believe the male God is reborn anew as longer amounts of daylight return (gradually increasing daily until Litha/the Summer Solstice).
Black, on the other hand, serves to acknowledge and venerate darkness and death, including that of the God.
The colour black also pertains to mourning, funerals, witchcraft, mystery, otherworldly happenings and beings, the end of the harvest season, and the challenges of winter that lay ahead.
Each of these elements finds its way into contemporary observances of Samhain, making orange and black excellent choices to wear, decorate with, and incorporate in rituals and spellwork during the Samhain season.
If you feel pulled to celebrate both Samhain and Halloween, by all means, go for it! You can take my lead and observe both on the same date or split them between two different dates.
I have known, for example, a number of fellow Pagans and witches (especially those who had youngsters at home at the time) who observed Halloween with gusto on October 31st and Samhain with every bit as much passion on either October 30th, November 1st, or November 2nd.
If you have reason to believe that observing Samhain to the degree that you desire may not be possible on Halloween itself, doing so on a different date (or later in the evening on the 31st, after wee ones have retired for the night) may be a pragmatic approach that renders Samhain no less meaningful than if it was held on October 31st itself.
Why is Samhain called The Witches’ New Year?
The ancient Celts observed a lunar calendar that ended on October 31st, starting anew on November 1st. Thus, Samhain became the Celtic New Year.
Some, though not all, branches of contemporary Wicca, Neopaganism, and witchcraft are based, at least in part, on various traditions and beliefs that come down to us from ancient British, Celtic, and Gaelic peoples.
In addition, as Samhain is the final harvest festival, this sabbat marks the end of the (traditional) agricultural season coupled with the unofficial start of winter in many parts of the world.
As such, adopting Samhain as the date in the Wheel of the Year that makes, historically speaking, the most sense from a New Year’s perspective was a natural fit.
While by no means universal, of course, many countries observe the official date of New Year’s as being January 1st.
And while modern witches and Pagans living in such countries roll with that for the sake of cultural convention, in their personal lives and spiritual practices, they may choose to view their own year as beginning on Samhain (or the day immediately following it).
Personally, the period spanning from Mabon (the Fall Equinox) to Samhain is my spiritual new year.
During this time, more than at any other on the calendar, I feel that the year is coming to a natural end and that November’s biting chill both sounds the death knell for the old year and ushers in the exciting return of the new year ahead.
If you’re keen to learn more about the origins and contemporary practices alike that are associated with Samhain, be sure to check out My Ultimate Guide to Books About the Pagan Sabbats, which includes a number of titles pertaining to Samhain.
31 Samhain quotes that are perfect for The Witches’ New Year
The following is a selection of thirty-one quotes that either directly pertains to Samhain or which are a natural fit for this important Pagan sabbat.
In addition to simply enjoying these quotes unto themselves, you may wish to use one or more of them in various celebratory or magickal ways.
You could, for example, recite one of these quotes at the beginning of a Sabbat ritual, transform a few words from a quote into a sigil, include a relevant quote in a spell bottle/jar, create a piece of art featuring a Samhain quote to put on your altar or elsewhere in your home, or write out several quotes on small cards or pieces of sturdy paper and create an oracle card deck of sorts with them.
As well, fellow paper crafters may enjoy incorporating some of these quotes about Samhain into their papercrafting projects, such as scrapbook pages, mini albums, and handmade cards – to say nothing of things such as canvass art, junk journals and art journals, and home décor pieces, too.
And now, on with the festive selection of 31 Samhain quotes. 📝
📌📌📌 Each of these quotes is accompanied by a pin-able/shareable image that you can save to Pinterest, share on social media, or use on your own blog as well.
1. Samhain is the threshold to the Season of Death. The fertile fields of summer give way to the bare forests of autumn. As crops slowly die and winter takes over, the cycle of life is once again approaching a renewal. ~ Dacha Avelin
2. The musky scent of autumn rolled over my town, and I could feel the veil between the worlds getting thinner. ~ Ellen Dugan
3. I feel the nights stretching away
thousands long behind the days
till they reach the darkness where
all of me is ancestor.
~ Annie Finch
4. Wild is the music of autumn winds amongst the faded wood. ~ William Wordsworth
5. I was born on the night of Samhain, when the barrier between the worlds is whisper-thin and when magic, old magic, sings its heady and sweet song to anyone who cares to hear it. ~ Carolyn MacCullough
6. The thing with October is, I think, it somehow gets in your very blood. Unapologetically. Almost ruthlessly. ~ Anne Sexton
7. Across a golden Autumn tapestry appear the spirits of our ancient selves demanding recognition and reward for one haunted night. Sated, they retreat from winter’s onslaught and retire to subconscious hibernation for another twelvemonth. ~ Stewart Stafford
8. Samhain translates prosaically as “summer’s end.” It marks the end of the light half of the Celtic year and the beginning of the dark half. The border between years is distinguished by the border between worlds. ~ Judika Illes
9. The moon sits low above the trees, above the world; a reminder that there is light in darkness and darkness in light, and that everything that was will be again. ~ S.R. Hardy
10. It is traditional on Samhain night to leave a plate of food outside the home for the souls of the dead. A candle placed in the window guides them to the lands of eternal summer, and burying apples in the hard-packed earth ‘feeds’ the passed ones on their journey. ~ Scott Cunningham
11. I can see the lights in the distance trembling in the dark cloak of night. Candles and lanterns are dancing, dancing a waltz on All Souls Nights. ~ Loreena McKennit (Who is one of my all-time favourite musicians; listen to the captivatingly gorgeous song these lines hail from here.)
12. Ah, lovely October, as you usher in the season that awakens my soul, your awesome beauty compels my spirit to soar like a leaf caught in an autumn breeze and my heart to sing like a heavenly choir. ~ Peggy Toney Horton
13. Also known as the witch’s New Year, Samhain celebrates all we’ve accomplished and allows us to do so alongside those who have made it happen: our ancestors. The veil that separates us from them is like a curtain, and we’re able to peek behind it much more easily now than at any other time of year. ~ Gabriela Herstik
14. Take it all in, enjoy every moment, hold on to the experience that is October. Abundance . . . Beauty . . . LIFE! ~ Julie Hage
15. The pagan Samhain is not, and never was, associated with evil or negativity. It has always been a time to reaffirm our belief in the oneness of all spirits, and in our firm resolution that physical death is not the final act of existence. ~ Edain McCoy
16. October is the fallen leaf, but it is also a wider horizon more clearly seen. It is the distant hills once more in sight, and the enduring constellations above them once again. ~ Hal Borland
17. In the human growth cycle, Samhain corresponds to the period of old age when wisdom, freedom of spirit and clarity are experienced. ~ Caitlin Matthews
18. In the entire circle of the year there are no days so delightful as those of a fine October. ~ Alexander Smith
19. With night coming early,
And dawn coming late,
And ice in the bucket
And frost by the gate.
The fires burn
And the kettles sing,
And earth sinks to rest
Until next spring.
~ Clyde Watson
20. The identification of Samhain with the beginning of the New Year comes from the Celtic tradition of each day beginning at sundown. Just as each sabbat festival begins on the eve of the celebrated day, so, too, does the year begin with the advent of winter. ~ Judy Ann Nock
21. Listen! The wind is rising, and the air is wild with leaves, we have had our summer evenings, now for October eves. ~ Humbert Wolfe
22. At Samhain, the circle of the year has come to its final spoke in the Wheel. At this time, the harvest has finished, the dying god interred, and the goddess has descended to the underworld to be with her beloved. ~ Diana Rajchel
23. Life is a cycle, a great wheel that turns throughout time: we are born, we live, we die, and (if we are lucky) we are reborn. ~ Robin Bachar
24. The magic of Samhain is that of endless possibility. Since we return to the beginning, we can begin anew in any way we wish. ~ Michael Furie
25. The moon has awoken with the sleep of the sun. The light has been broken, the spell has begun. ~ Midgard Morningstar
26. Samhain is considered by some to be the most important sabbat. This is because it represents the core experiences of the Craft: of travelling between the worlds, of experiencing death and rebirth, and of ultimately transcending both in the process. ~ Jennifer Hunter
27. The farther we’ve gotten from the magic and mystery of our past, the more we’ve come to need Halloween. ~ Paula Curan
28. Practically, a besom (broom) is used at Samhain to sweep away the last of the autumn leaves; but it is also used to ritually sweep out old energy and create space for the new. ~ Lisa Lister
29. She’d always loved Halloween. A magic night. A night when anything could happen. Monsters could be real. Magic could whisper in the air. ~ Cynthia Eden
30. While the fates permit, live happily; life speeds on with hurried step, and with winged days the wheel of the headlong year is turned. ~ Seneca
31. Samhain. All Hallows. All Hallow’s Eve. Hallow E’en. Halloween. The most magical night of the year. ~ Mike Nichols
Which of these 31 Samhain quotes is your favourite? Do you have other faves that weren’t included here?
If so, please feel free to share them in the comment section below so that we can expand this festive list of Samhain quotes all the more. 🧡
The Magick and Meaning of Samhain
Growing up, I always felt like fall made for an infinitely more natural start to the year than January 1st.
After all, it was when summer ended, a fresh school year began, and nature started to give up the ghost as tree after tree donned its breathtaking autumnal finery. 🍂
Upon starting to research contemporary Paganism, Wicca, and witchery in my tween years, I was introduced to The Wheel of the Year and was thrilled to discover that there were other people – both past and present – who felt this way as well.
From a spiritual perspective, Samhain is my New Year – just as it is for many fellow Pagans, Wiccans, and witches.
Yet Samhain (much like Halloween) is so much more than “just” that to me.
It is the sabbat that resonates most deeply with my soul. The time in which I can all but see the other side of the veil as clear as day. It is when my ancestors don’t just stop by to say hi, but clammer to spend the day enjoying both Halloween and Samhain activities with me.
The Samhain + Halloween season is when I feel my absolute witchiest. As well as the happiest, most content, and most whole as a spiritual being.
On Samhain/Halloween, the acknowledgement of death makes me feel starkly more alive.
It also comforts me and serves as a powerful reminder that, to my mind and beliefs, there is a realm beyond our own waiting for the time when my current corporal body calls it quits.
Samhain recognizes and honours the long hours of night that fill fall and winter. It is a time of balance between the light and dark halves of the year, as well as for introspection, shadow work, banishing, healing, honouring the dead, and setting new plans into motion.
This sabbat marks the end of the harvest season and the unofficial beginning of winter. Solemness and joyfulness alike weave their way into Samhain.
On this day, we remember the departed – both human and animal. And our own mortality stares us squarely in the face, alongside the blessings and thrills of life.
I sincerely hope that the thirty-one quotes featured in this post help you to feel all the more connected with Samhain (and/or Halloween).
As well as that they provide inspiration to you as you observe The Witches’ New Year – both this time around and for many an October 31st to come.
May this Samhain be a safe, happy, magickal, abundantly blessed, and enchantingly meaningful one for each of you, dear friends! 💀🖤🎃