Samhain is a festival for the dead and ancestors. In wicca, death is seen as a transition from one phase of life to another (The Death Card in Tarot has similar meaning), or from one incarnation to the next. This rite invokes the God an Goddess of the underworld. The Dark Lord opens the gateway between our world and the underworld and invites all to feast (commune) with the dead. At Samhain the veil between world is thin, and so it is perfect time for the art of divination and mediumship. On a lighter side, apple bobbing from the cauldron is traditional. Samhain is seen as the New Year in Celtic traditions.
Winter Solstice is the time when the Sun is at it’s lowest (nadir), resulting in the longest night and darkness appears to be enveloping all. Inwardly, it’s a time when hope and faith may be ebbing low and the future looks bleak. It is precisely at this point that the festive energy is needed to shift the magic within, and to celebrate the birth of the Sun Child! From here onwards, the night time starts to reduce, and daylight grows.. to a point of balance between dark and light (at Spring) and to the long days at Summer! As a symbol of hope and life, celebrants decorate the Altar and indoors with bright objects and keep greenery (ever Greens.. ie Yule tree and of course holly etc). A Yule log is also burnt in the ire, symbolising the coming of warmth and fire.