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Thread: What is Samhain (Halloween) in Germanic Culture?

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    Senior Member VikingManx's Avatar
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    What is Samhain (Halloween) in Germanic Culture?

    My favorite holiday. An excellent carryover of ancient Celtic custom!

    My question is: did the ancient Germanic culture have anything similar?
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    Yep. It's called Álfablót.

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    Quote Originally Posted by VikingManx View Post
    My favorite holiday. An excellent carryover of ancient Celtic custom!

    My question is: did the ancient Germanic culture have anything similar?
    Of course we did, the winternight celebration fell on the same day and time of the year and celebrated the very same things. The ancestor spirits, the disir coming to visit and the netherworld overlapping with ours. Also Balder and Nanna were celebrated and sacrifaced too during this time, as this was Balder's time to come bless the land with happiness and forgiveness before he would have to die for Ragnarok.
    "What is done out of love always takes place beyond good and evil." Friedrich Nietzche

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    Yes, there are Germanic holidays around this time that represent some of the same ideas. I'm speaking from a purely Scandinavian bent on my research, so bear with me. But, maybe this will get you started.

    "On winter day there should be blood-sacrifice for a good year, and in the middle of winter for a good crop; and the third sacrifice should be on summer day, for victory in battle." ~*Ynglinga Saga 8

    The first holiday celebration (hátíð) mentioned was that of Veturnætur (Winter Nights). It was a combination of a harvest & fall slaughter feast as well as a recognition to the landvættir (land spirits) and ancestors. Of course, the time of the harvest was based upon local climate, but it was traditionally celebrated around mid-October.

    Álfablót, was held either in the fall or spring, depending upon local custom (siðr). There is evidence to suggest that Álfablót was a private affair and only celebrated with the family.

    "Then they [the messengers of King Olaf Haraldsson] went through Gautland, and one evening came to a farm called Hof. The door was shut and they could not enter; the husband and wife said it was holy there, and they went away. Then they came to another farm; the housewife stood at the door and asked them not to go in, saying they were holding alfablót. Sigvat [an Icelandic skald traveling with the group] sang--

    “Do not go farther in,

    I fear the wrath of Óðínn,
    Wretched man;

    We are heathens.”

    ~ Olaf's Saga 92


    There is literary evidence that would lead us to believe that Veturnætur also encompasses Dísablót, which is a sacrifice to the feminine ancestral spirits who protect a family's lineage. However, there are other sources in the lore that showed that Dísablót may have been a separate holiday, held close to Veturnætur.

    I hope that helps!

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