Samhain Celebration, Children Activities
Samhain is the third and final harvest of the year. Although most of today's Pagans are no longer countryfolkes, growing crops and tending cattle or other livestock, this can still be celebrated as a harvest, the harvest of the "thought-seeds". Also the Celtic (and Witches') New Year, t'is a day for remembering the past and forecasting the future.
10-12 flower bulbs, A trowel or small shovel, a small spot of earth for a flower bed.
Decide where you want the flowers to bloom in the spring. Dig the holes for each bulb two and one half time the diameter of the bulb. Place or pour some fertilizer into the bottom of the hole. Place in the bulb, root side down, and cover with dirt. Water the area well. (Tell the children about how the bulbs are buried just as the Sun God starts his journey to the Underworld. Just as he is not really dead, neither are the bulbs. They are warm and alive beneath the ground, in the womb of the Mother Earth, gathering strength for when they emerge and bloom as bright as the Sun, come next spring.)
Turnip the Lights
Materials: 1 turnip and one flashlight per child. Sharp knife and spoon (adults only)
Slice off the top of each medium size purple-top turnip. Hollow out the middle with the knife and spoon. Save the turnip meat (remind children "waste not, want not") for cooking later. Carefully carve facial features through one side of the turnip. Cut a circle in the bottom of the turnip to fit snug over the head of a flashlight. Turn on the flashlight to go trick-or-treat-ing. (Tell the children about how the Celt children would dress in all white, dress up as the opposite gender, or wear straw disguises to fool the spirits out walking around on Samhain)
1 mini pumpkin and 1 taper candle for each "lantern" to be made.
Cut the top off of a mini pumpkin. Make sure the opening is no larger than a quarter. Remove the seeds with a small spoon or the tip of a peeler. Allow children to paint faces on the pumpkins before sticking a taper candle into it. Carefully cut the center out of the top of the pumpkin, slightly smaller hole than in the pumpkin itself, and slip over the candle. Press the top down gently until it is a tight fit. ( Explain to the children how the Pagan children used turnips rather than pumpkins to make Jack-o-Lanterns, as pumpkins were not indigenous to Europe, but rather introduced after the discovery of North America.)
Natural Old Maid
21 leaves, 21 index cards, glue, felt markers.
This is a two part activity. Start a couple of days before Samhain by sending the children outside to gather leaves. These leaves should not be thoroughly dried and crinkled up, but rather turning color and still pliable. Explain the importance of getting the leaves from the ground rather than off the bushes or trees. Press the leaves by placing them between paper towels and stacking books on top of them. After 2 or three days, remove the leaves and select 10 pairs and one odd-one-out. Glue the leaves to the index cards, and allow the children to decorate each pair as desired. Shuffle the cards and deal till all the cards are dealt. Each child picks a card from the one on their left, laying down pairs for all to see. Play continues until all pairs are matched. The child holding the odd card WINS.
Acorns, pine cones, rocks, seeds, leaves, twigs, or any other natural item.
Have the child(ren) gather all natural items in the backyard, or if hiking along the trail. Assign an action to each type of item, such as *rock--jump*, *twig-hop*, etc. Start by showing one object, and the children calling out the associated action, then acting it out. As they catch on, start laying out the items in "sentences" on the ground. Watch the silliness and laughter grow. (Explain to the children that in ancient times children made up games with only natural materials. That there were no TVs or radios, or bikes, etc. Remind them that Nature is not only beautiful, but fun, too.)
Hide and Seek
Rocks and Sticks.
This can be played in the backyard, along a nature trail, or at the beach. First the adult goes down the path and leaves "directions for the children to follow. The directions are made by placing piles of rocks and twigs along the side of the path. Perhaps three rocks and a twig sticking out to the left means that the next clue is three steps forward and to the left. One rock in a circle of twigs could mean to stand still, turn slowly in a circle for the next clue. Next, the child and a second adult start down the path and try to find you. (Explain how the villagers and others would find their way to each other and back home again by leave natural "secret clues" along the various paths.)
Samhain Door Wreath
Items from Nature, fine wire, sheet of corrugated cardboard, collection sack, small nail.
First, take a Nature hike. Have the child collect items from nature, such as pine cones, seeds, leaves, berry bunches (remind the child how important it is to thank the plant for its gift, and to take only what is needed.), acorns and caps, flowers, etc. When you get home, spread out collection on some newspaper. Cut out a circle about 15" in diameter, from the cardboard. Cut a smaller circle out of the middle. Have the child choose which objects go where on the cardboard background, and hand the object to you. Wrap the wire around each object so it can be fastened to the cardboard. Poke two small holes in the cardboard ring for each item. Feed the wire through and twist in back. Keep fastening objects onto the ring until it is full and no cardboard shows. Hang the wreath on the front door with the nail. (Explain that "wreaths of bounty" used to symbolize giving thanks for a prosperous year, and an invitation for others less fortunate to share in the good fortune.)
Making a Besom
4ft dowel- 1" in diameter, ball of twine, scissors, straw or other pliable herb stock.
Take the straw or other herb stalk that you have chosen and soak overnight in luke warm salted water. The water swells the stalk slightly for bending without breakage, and the salt dispels former energies. When ready, remove stalks from the water and dry for just a bit. Not too much or the stalk will stiffen up, again. Place the dowel on a table where you have room to work. Start lining the stalks along the dowel , about 3 inches from the bottom, moving backwards. Begin binding the stalks to the dowel with the twine. Tie very securely. You may add as many layers as you like, depending on how full you want the Besom to be. When stalks are secure, gently bend the top stalks down over the binding. When all have been bent over, secure the stalks again with more twine a couple of inches under the first binding. Allow to air dry for a day or two. The dowel can then be stained, painted, or carved into to make personal. Remember to concentrate and charge at the next full moon. (Explain to the children that the Pagans used to "ride" their Besoms through the fields, jumping as high as they could. This was to show the God/dess(s-es) how high they wanted their crops to grow the next year. Also jumping over bonfires at the Sabbat festivals was for good health and prosperity.)
Gather 'round the bonfire, burning so bright
Watch the shadows dancing, in its flickering light
As the music starts, and we begin to dance
Just maybe, if we're lucky, ahhhhh perchance
We shall see some kindred spirits, as they pass by
On their way to the Summerlands, beneath the Samhain sky.
As I lay in my bed, 'tis the end of the year
And I thank the Goddess and the God
For bringing me to here.
Before I close my eyes, one more wish I make
I pray to the Goddess and the God
The next year through me take.
--Adapted by Akasha Ap Emrys to share with all her friends and those of like mind.--
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