In reading up about Samhain in Celtic tradition, it’s believed that apple bobbing (called “apple dookin'” in Scotland) is a reminder of the journey across the seas that the ancestors took to find fresh fruit.
There was thought to be a magical land, Emhain Ablach, known as the “Island of Apples” that had wonderful apples that imparted wisdom to those lucky enough to find one.
It was also believed that the festival of Samhain taught humans about their “shadow-sides,” all the fears, misgivings, negativity, and unresolved issues within them that should be recognized, accepted, and reclaimed. Celtic wisdom taught that no person could be fully whole without their shadow side, and that ignoring or fighting against your shadow in such a way that you buried it created fragile beings who were easily broken by their ego, by other warriors, and by the hardships of the world.
Samhain, rather than insisting that you ignore the ugly side of your human nature, took you down into the depths of the fear (literally, tons of tales about descent into the pits of the world were told at Samhain) so that you could wrestle with yourself and wake up whole.
It sounds very Jungian, right?
It’s actually just ancient wisdom that we keep forgetting and “discovering” again and again…