Honoring Ancestors at Samhain

ancestors at SamhainLooking to the past is one of the most authentic Halloween traditions.  If you’re looking for other ways to celebrate your history and honour your ancestors, I have a few suggestions.

Some of these are larger projects that aren’t the kind of thing you do in one day.

Create an Ancestor Altar
An easy way to remember your family and your history for Samhain. Whether you already have a permanent altar or not, you can create a space for this. Just collect a selection of photos and/or other keepsakes and display them in one spot. Be careful with candles around old photos. You wouldn’t want to damage anything irreplaceable. If you don’t have many pictures, you could use other items that represent your heritage.

Create a Family Scrapbook
Scrapbooking is the latest hot craft/hobby, and there are no shortage of supplies and instructions out there. You don’t have to get all elaborate. A simple album would certainly suffice. You can not only record your family members, but specific family events as well. Old photos are delicate and can be precious. You might want to think about scanning them and using copies in your scrapbook instead of the originals.

Start to Record Your Family Tree
Scrapbooks are great if you have a collection of photos and other family memorabilia. But if you don’t have these sorts of things, simply recording your relatives and ancestors in a family tree can work just as well. You can either put together some basic records on paper, or use a genealogy software program. I have worked out an extensive family history of my own, and it really gives me a sense of connection with my past.

Record Personal Stories
This is probably the most time consuming, especially if you have to travel at all. Get your family history right from the horse’s mouth. Spend some time with older relatives and take some notes about their lives and personal experiences. Even small details can add colour to your family tree records. The best thing about this project is that you can show your respect and interest directly.

Do Some Ethnic Cooking
“Ethnic” is probably the wrong word there, but I didn’t know how else to describe it. What’s your heritage? Find some authentic or traditional foods from your native land and make them for your family at Samhain. Even better if you can get in touch with relatives and use favourite recipes from your own family. If your family already cooks traditional foods regularly, this might not be such a meaningful gesture.

The basic idea here is to remember the people that came before you. Creating a permanent record will preserve those memories, and keep your ancestors alive.