When sliced crosswise, an apple reveals a five pointed star. Apples, like all pome fruits, take their name from Pomona, the Roman Goddess of fruits, harvest and gardens. (Halloween was 'Pomona Day' for the Romans.) Traditional Halloween games such as bobbing for apples can symbolize the descent of the Goddess into the underworld where she eats a fruit, as lost souls crossing over, or even as the participants reaping their harvest.
No matter what apple symbolism you enjoy, apples make great Sabbat treats during ritual (instead of cakes) or for celebrations. In many parts of the world, apples are in abundance at this time of year. Apples sliced "Witch Way" can be dipped in lemon juice or in a solution made of Vitamin C ground and dissolved in water. This dip helps the apples to retain their color and prevents them from oxidizing and turning brown. These slices can be served fresh, or dried. For drying, each Witch Way slice should be about 1/8 to 1/4 inch thick.
Samhain marks the end of the year, and the beginning of a new year for many Pagans. Taking into consideration this cycle, and the tradition of writing "New Year's resolutions" in popular culture, it is possible to create a new ritual where the old meets the new. We tried this ritual several years ago and it has become a successful Samhain tradition for the family.
During the day, before your ritual, or during your ritual, pass out stationary, pens and envelopes to all participants. Parchment stationary, notebook paper or conventional halloween cards can be used.
Samhain is a good time for introspection, and to take stock of our lives and ourselves. In this activity, each participant is to write down on one piece of paper, all the things they hope to achieve the following year. This is not meant to be "I promise to quit smoking", or "I resolve to loose weight". It is meant to be deeper than these issues. For example, "I hope to learn to handle my anger better by seeing all sides of situations whenever possible", or "I know that when I feel insecure I over-eat. I hope to work on this problem, not necessarily by losing weight, but by identifying what makes me seek out the reassurance of food."
These "resolutions" can also be written as affirmations such as: "I see the divine in everyone, I do not let my anger betray me." However these are worded, they can be shared aloud, or kept private. After being written (and read aloud if applicable), they are sealed up and the name of the person is written on the envelope. These are then stored away until the next Samhain, when they are given back to their owners for review. We have a plastic cauldron which holds candy for trick-or-treaters. So when we put that in storage for the year, we place the envelopes inside it for safe keeping.
On another piece of paper, each participant is to write what they are thankful for. This should include the "harvests" each person has gleaned in their lives. Harvests can include new prosperity, loved ones, new insights, literal harvests from gardens and farms, new friends, new knowledge or any other things that come to mind. If you have letters from the previous year, they are opened at this time and reviewed privately or aloud.
After writing down the things you are thankful for, you can share your 'harvest thanks' with others, or keep some or all of the things private. For our ritual, we read our letters from the previous year aloud or to ourselves, and then read aloud our 'harvest thanks'. When this is done, we burn last year's letters and the 'harvest thanks' letters in the cauldron (no not the plastic one, hehehe) and then place the new letters sealed in envelopes on the altar for a day or two before they go into storage.