As a Pagan, Samhain was a holy day for me. As a kid and a part-time, nominal Christian, I mostly had fun with the candy and costumes and pumpkins aspect. At this point in my life, I like the candy and costumes and pumpkins part of things, as well as the spiritual side.
I’ve put a glass out for departed friends so they can stay and partake. Every year on the thirty-first I take a moment to pause and remember my loved ones. My ‘household spirits,” if you will. Mostly they are animals but there are a couple of two-leggeds also. I even remember my grandfather fondly. I have put away much of the pain and bewilderment he caused and have learned to think of him with compassion. So his spirit would be welcome at my table, should it choose to come and visit.
The Japanese have the right idea. Their festival of the dead is called Obon. It lasts three days. and is full of music, dancing, big drums, and bonfires. The people dress in festive clothes and celebrate the joyous reunion with their beloved dead. On the last day, they give them a proper sendoff, with lighted lanterns floating down the waterways and out to sea. It’s a beautiful scene at night.
Here is the best part: The Japanese people had a Lunar calendar, and changed it to a Solar calendar in the modern era. They liked the festival of Obon so much, that they celebrate it at the new time, which is earlier in the year, AND at the old Lunar time! Someday I want to go to Japan and watch the lanterns float down the river. Farewell, loved souls, we will welcome you again next year.