I love Organized Holidays. One of the most important things they stress is holiday values.
WHAT DO YOU WANT?
What do YOU want to celebrate and how?
What is it about Samhain you want to celebrate?
What does Samhain mean to you?
Holidays are there to give us a well needed and wanted break from the everyday, toil and trouble, blood, sweat and tears. Holidays are to be something quite opposite. No toil, no troubles, no stress, no blood, no pain, no sweat and no tears.
(At least no tears of sadness, pain and anger. Happy tears are OK :-D Though kids and animals can't see the difference, and you might need to think why you are crying happy tears... and do something about the matter. Maybe you have been too hard and too stingy with yourself, and not given yourself enough rest and joy in your life, so when you finally get it, you start crying. Think about it. Now, we women tend to have easy to cry for everything, and that's hormonal and nothing to do anything about, and if that's the reason why you cry, then it's ok. Just remember that children and animals and other sensitive living beings find tears confusing and stressful.)I want my holidays to be Movie Magic. The Stuff Movies Are Made Off. Picture perfect... But I don't want fake. I don't want "staged".
Or I do, but just as much as is needed to set a stage for true joy and happiness, pleasure and rest, to create a space outside the time, where we don't need to worry about anything, do anything, take care of anything. This is why I think it is important to set the date apart from all the others, to lift it up, to shine it, to make it sparkle and create joyful memories :-)
It is said that for a dream to come true, we need to set a date, make a plan and break the job into small, manageable steps, and then take action.
The date is set, by God, as far as I'm concerned. I believe the equinoxes and solstice are put in place for a reason, and that is so that we would "keep the Shabat", and get the rest we need and break the year into "manageable steps". I think it is important to mark the dates, like graduation, birthdays, first blood, marriage and death. So it is also important to mark the seasons.
Samhain is in between Autumn Equinox and Winter Solstice, marking the end of Autumn and the beginning of Winter.
The plan is personal for every one of us. You want something different than I do.
To me it is important to dress the home for a party. That is, clean it better than just for everyday, decorate it, put bows on and a cherry on the top, if you understand what I mean.
To me it's important to appeal to all the five senses (and the others too, though that might be difficult, even impossible, in same cases :-D http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sense ).
It's easy to remember sights and flavors, even smells, with decorations and food, but how to appeal to ears and touch? And what sensory elements will lift Samhain up from the rest of the Autumn?
Here's Melissa's "20 little things to treasure in Autumn". Write a list like that, for Samhain. What happens at this time of year that happens never in any other time, that you love?
You don't need to be able to write the list right away. Just add the list in your Samhain binder, and add things as you come across them. Maybe you'll find more than 20 :-)
Until then you can use that list. Those are nice things, too. :-)
Another thing that is important to me, is the spiritual meaning of the holiday. At this time of the year I feel the connection to my ancestors very strongly. In summer the connection to Mother's beating heart is strong, and now, with the vegetation disappearing, the connection with the ground, soil, dust, history, burial mounds and graves dug in the earth, comes stronger. I can feel the silver line binding me with generations before me, all the hundreds and thousands of people that were part of making me me. I remember all my relatives, my family, my people...
I have always loved the Silent Suppers and felt the closeness of Absent Friends.
To find out how YOU want to celebrate this time of the year, focus on this question: why do you do what you do?
Why do you clean, shop, bake, cook, decorate, and all the other things you do?
That is the best way to give time to things you really WANT to spend time with and in, and not waste it to things you really don't care about.
Make yourself a promise. Start collecting things, pictures, recipes and ideas that make you think and feel Samhain.
Look at other traditions and religions, and what are they celebrating, how and why.
Look at other celebrations at this time of the year.
Look at the deities associated with this holiday, and their celebrations and other traditions involved in their worship.
Look at other people and their traditions, and what you like, what you would like to bring in to your holidays.
Look at the different seasonal activities, and what would you like to add to your Samhain.
Look also at the other seasons and feasts. There might be something in Easter celebrations you could adjust to Samhain, for example. I use Yule (and Christmas) very much as a base to build on my other Sabbaths.
Look at your family and how you have celebrated the Sabbaths and other holidays. What went right? What went wrong and why? What did you forget?
Look at other parties your family has celebrated.
Now, then... it's actually time to start thinking about not the next holiday, but the holiday after that... For you to be properly ready for Yule, you should have started thinking about it already a month ago.
Would work nicely as your "elf on the shelf"