CPS #12 : Samhain and the Origins of Halloween

Halloween ! A festival whose roots are often said to be in the gaelic feast of Samhain (pronounce sow-in, or be mocked!), be it by horror movies or a lot of people on the internet — which as we know are the most trustworthy sources of knowledge! But is it true ? Isn’t Halloween simply the eve of All Saints Day ?

In this video (our first in english!), Camille, Antoine and Lays (well, Antoine’s voice) are trying to figure out if what we can gather from medieval litterature and modern folklore can help us discern the christian from the pagan and scholarly myth from history.

If you want to hear another one of our videos with even worse english, here on Crash Course Mythology

00:00 0. Introduction
02:33 1. Halloween & Samhain in fiction
11:11 2. Review of specialized dictionaries on the subject
12:23 3. Human Sacrifices among the Celts, texts and reality.
16:30 4. Historical traces of Samhain
17:47 5. The Reconstruction of a Celtic Holiday
22:00 6. All Saints Day & All Souls Day
25:10 7. Samhain as an ominous date in medieval litterature and modern folklore
30:21 8. The Modern Halloween
31:00 a) Soul Cakes & Trick-or-Treating
35:00 b) Disguises & Mischief
36:50 c) History of the Jack’O’Lantern
38:08 9. From an irish feast in the US to an american feast in Europe
39:35 10. Conclusion

Addendum to the video :

🎃 The script of this episode, with our bibliography and links to the sources and works cited when they are available online [Google Docs] :


Ronald HUTTON, Stations of the Sun : A history of the Ritual Year in Britain, Oxford University Press, 1996.
🎃 Édition 1996 [GBooks Preview]
🎃 Ebook 2001 [Gbooks Preview]

🎃 Jacqueline BORSJE « Human Sacrifice in Medieval Irish Litterature » in Bremmer Jan, The Strange World of Human Sacrifice, 2007, pp. 31-55. [PDF]

🎃 The Wicker Man (1973)
🎃 Halloween (1978 – ) franchise
🎃 The Real Ghostbusters, « When Halloween Was Forever » (1986)
🎃 The Halloween Tree (1993)
🎃 Supernatural (30 oct 2008) “It’s The Great Pumpkin Sam Winchester” (4×7)


🎃 Sting, « Soul Cake », 2009.
🎃 Kristen Lawrence, « Souling Song (Samhain Version) », 2009.
🎃 Walk Off The Earth, Jingle Bell Rock
🎃 Reed Blue, « sounds piano »

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