Samhain -- Halloween

Airson an àm caran iargalta seo den bhliadhna, tha òraidiche Gàidhlig, Catrìona Mhoireach, ag innis mu eachdraidh Cheilteach Oidhche Shamhna. Leughaibh na leanas, ma tha sibh a’ faireachdainn treun gu leòr .................................To celebrate this rather spooky time of year Gaelic lecturer Catriona Murray shares the ancient Celtic history of Halloween, read on if you dare……………….

A Halloween pumpkin in the Lews Castle Grounds.

Bithear air mothachadh gu bheil nam bùthan làn ghnothaichean airson Oidhche Shamhna a chomharrachadh - pumpcainean, adaichean biorach dubh, agus siùcairean gu leòr. ‘S dòcha gu bheil thu den bheachd gur e dìreach fasan às na Stàitean Aonaichte a th’ ann. Ged-tà, tha freumhan Oidhche Shamhna rin lorg ann an cleachdadh gu math aosta agus gu math Ceilteach: am fèill-teine, Samhain.

Bha Samhain a’ comharrachadh an deireadh-buana: deireadh bliadhna agus toiseach bliadhna ùr. Ann an seadh, bha e a’ dèanamh fèill ris an dorchadas. Cha b’e idir gun robhar a’ brosnachadh olc no dorchadas spioradail - ach a’ toirt taing airson an fhois a tha nàdar a’ faighinn tron a’ gheamhradh. Thuigeadh ar sìnnsirean rud nach tuig sinne cho math: tha sìol a’ fàs anns an dorchadas, air falach bho shùilean dhaoine. Tha an aon rud fìor mu thimcheall nàdar san fharsaingeachd. Mar sin, cha robhar ag amhairc air dorchadas mar ni a bha a’ comharrachadh bàs, ach rud a bha a’ brosnachadh fàs.

A bheil cuimhne agaibh air pàrtaidhean Oidhche Shamhna nuair a bha sibh fhèin òg? Bhiodh bolaichean làn chnothan ann, agus mias le bùrn agus ùbhlan. Bhuineadh iad seo do na làithean a dh’ fhalbh, nuair a bha Samhain a’ comharrachadh deireadh-buana. Agus, dheidheadh an cleachdadh ann am frìth agus fàidhdearachd.

Ma tha thu ag iarraidh faighinn a-mach dè mar a thèid dhut fhèin agus do chèile (no cupall eile!), tagh dà chnò agus cuir dhan teine iad. Innsidh an dol a-mach aca san teine a h-uile càil a tha thu ag iarraidh a thomhais. No, faic cò tha thu dol a phòsadh le bhith a’ sadail rùsg ùbhail tarsainn air do ghualain. Tha còir aige laighe ann an cumadh ciad litir ainm an duine.

Dè mu dheidhinn taibhsean agus droch spioradan, ged-tà? Bha iad gun teagamh bunaiteach do dh’Oidhche Shamhna. Chruthaicheadh deireadh-bliadhna beàrn ann an leantainneachd thìm - beàrn a chleachdadh creutairean os-nàdarrach agus droch spioradan mar geata dhan t-saoghal seo. Mar sin, bhathar a’ creidsinn gum b’ urrainn dha na mairbh tilleadh gus iad fhèin a bhlàthachadh aig cagailtean nam beò. ‘S e duine glic, a-rèist, a dh’ ionnsaich e fhèin a dhìon san t-suidheachadh seo.

‘S e a’ chiad cheum fios a bhith agad dè dhèanadh tu - agus bha stóras gliocais aig ar sìnnsearan an dàimh ri seo, gliocas a chaidh às ar cuimhne thar nam bliadhnaichean.

An seo aig Colaisde a’ Chaisteil, tha sinn a’ tabhainn chùrsaichean a dh’ ath-bheothaicheas ar n’ eòlais a thaobh dualchas agus cultar, cho math ri cànan. Tha sinn den bheachd gu bheil e cudromach nach caill sinn am beairteas seo.

Tha cùrsaichean againn a shàsaicheas a h-uile duine, eadar daoine aig a bheil ùidh ann an cùrsaichean goirid ainmean-àite no beul-aithris, feadhainn a tha airson Gàidhlig ionnsachadh tro Ulpan air-loidhne,  no duine sam bith a tha ag iarraidh aon de na cùrsaichean ceum no CPD a dhèanamh.

Gaelic Courses at Lews Castle College LCC

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You’ve probably noticed that the shops are full of pumpkins, witches’ hats and sweets for Halloween. Maybe you think this is just yet another American fad that’s caught on over here. However, its roots lie in something very ancient and very Celtic: the fire festival of Samhain.

Samhain marked the end of one pastoral year, and the beginning of the next and was, in one sense, a celebration of darkness. Not of spiritual darkness, not a glorification of the occult - but thanksgiving for the rest nature enjoys in the months of winter. Our forefathers understood, as we do not, that a seed does most of its growing out of sight, underground, in the dark. So it is for all of nature. Therefore, darkness was viewed not as a mark of death or decay, but an opportunity for renewal.

 

Think back to the Halloween parties of your youth. Bowls of nuts would be very much in evidence, as well as the basin filled with water and apples for ducking. These were a throwback to the harvest-home roots of Samhain . . . and used in the lost art of divination, which was once a traditional practice on that particular night. 

If you want to find out how your relationship (or someone else’s!) will work out, select two nuts, each representing one partner and, this Halloween, pop them in the fire. Their behaviour in the flames will tell you all you need to know! Or, if you want to know who you will marry, select an apple, taking care to remove the peel in one strip. Throw it over your left shoulder on Halloween and it will land in the shape of your loved one’s initial.

What about ghosts and evil spirits, though? It is true that they were a major part of Halloween. The end of the year caused a breach in the continuity of time and our ancestors believed that such a break caused a thinning of the veil between this world and the other. On Halloween, therefore, it was thought that the spirits of the dead could return to warm themselves at the hearths of the living. A wise person learned early, therefore, how to protect themselves from such visitors.

The first defence was knowing what to do - and our forefathers had a store of wisdom in this regard that we have gradually lost sight of over time. 

Here at Lews Castle College, we offer courses that seek to reacquaint people with Gaelic heritage and culture, as well as the language itself. We believe that it is important not to lose sight of the wealth of knowledge and information that is part of the fabric of the Gaelic community. 

We have a suite of courses which provide something for everybody, whether you pursue an interest in place names or folklore on one of our short courses, improve your Gaelic via Ulpan online, or undertake one of our degree programmes, or CPDs.

Gaelic courses at Lews Castle College UHI