As a child, I celebrated Halloween like most American children. I dressed up, went out, and gathered candy and other treats. I still love Halloween...the costumes, the decorations, the candy. But, today, Halloween has become a severely commercialized holiday. Ask anyone about the holiday and most will tell you it involves involves costumes, gathering and scarfing candy, and parties. Yes, everyone is familiar with the celebration of Halloween but Samhain is generally not known to the masses.
Samhain is a more spiritual day. It is a day for ancestors and to bring attentions and worship to those people. It is a time where the world is caught up in an in between. It is when those who had passed on and impart wisdom and blessings on their family and can bring good fortune to those of their bloodline. Many believe that with the worlds so close, our ancestors can come and dance with us on this night. It is a day to honor those who came before us, and one way of honoring the dead is to have a 'dumb' supper on Samhain.
'Dumb' has nothing to do with one's intelligence; it means that these meals, and any communication therein, are conducted in silence. Essentially, it is a supper by the living, for the dead which is performed on the night that the veil between the world of the living and the dead is at its thinnest, Samhain/Halloween. This tradition dates back hundreds, if not thousands, of years. The 'dumb supper' is a solemn meal, aimed at inviting those who have passed away back to the world of the living for the night. It is a sign of respect to those who have come before.
It's easy to have a dumb supper. First, prepare the meal with the intent of honoring those family members who have died. It's always nice to include some of their favorite foods. The dinner table is set for a dumb supper, often held at midnight. An extra place is set and left for those ancestors that may visit. The head of the table should certainly be left open for the spirit of an important ancestor or family member. Here, the tradition varies.. When it is time for the meal, turn off all unnatural lighting and light candles.
In the places of the dead, specific candles can be lit--either black or white. After a silent prayer of thanks, everyone should begin eating in silence. When the meal is done, the live guests should all silently thank the ancestors who appeared. While the plates of the living are removed from the table, those of the dead should remain until morning, so that they may eat their fill through out the night.
Afterward, divination can be done and the spirits who have come to be with their family may be willing to help. Bring out a scrying mirror, tarot cards, or runestones, and do some divination about the year to come.