Sunday, November 3, 2013

Family Samhain Adventure

I was reading an interesting post this week on the nature of Samhain, and its two-fold nature.  The night of Halloween, the author proposes, is about local community; with all the kids out trick-or-treating.  Samhain itself, the day of November 1st, is about the historical community - those who have passed on.  My family and I have celebrated in this way for the past three years or so, but I've never quite been able to articulate how trick-or-treating is related to my religious practices!

Walking around the neighborhood on the 31st, we get to see many neighbors that rarely get more than a passing 'hello' through the rest of the year.  There were several of my oldest daughter's classmates walking around this year, and many parents that I had talked to waiting to pick her up from school.  It really was a night where the local community came together to create fun for all of the children.

The next day, November 1st, we woke up early to gather offerings for our ancestors.  In past years, I've made bits of pie for my women ancestors (big pie makers!) and brought tobacco for the men; but this year my middle daughter insisted that we make and bring cookies!  With my recipe book (with the family recipe for the best chocolate chip cookies ever) still in a box somewhere, we instead made sugar cookies - a big Christmas tradition in my family.  Since the weather was so beautiful this year, we made it out to three different places and honored many of our ancestors: my grandfather-in-law, my great-grandparents and their siblings, and we even managed to find the graves of my great-great-great grandparents who came over from Germany with their young son in the 1800s.  At each of these places, we would sit for a while, offering the ancestors cookies and water (too many alcoholics in my family to bring anything harder), and talk about memories of them - and in the case of those more distant in time, things I had learned about them and how they are related to us.  I was so pleased this year when I began telling a story about my great-grandpa and my oldest remembered it exactly, and was able to finish the story for her younger siblings.  It really hit home at that moment that I am creating a tradition - that part of the job of first-generation Pagan parents is creating a tradition.  I can talk about tribal ways and the deep love and loyalty for family until I'm blue in the face; but my children are really learning it through the traditions and actions that I'm passing down to them.  Even if they grow up to find another religion - and, realistically, they probably won't be Heathens or Druids as adults - they will remember the stories.  They will remember where they came from, and how it is such a large part of who they are.  Even if they don't grow up to worship Thunor or Brigid, they may still come in the fall to put flowers on the graves of their ancestors, and tell their children the stories.

No comments:

Post a Comment