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Samhain (/ˈsɑːwɪn, ˈsaʊɪn/, Irish: [ˈsˠəunʲ], Scottish Gaelic: [ˈs̪ãũ.ɪɲ]; Manx: Sauin [ˈsoːɪnʲ]) is a Gaelic festival marking the end of the harvest season and beginning of winter or "darker-half" of the year. In the northern hemisphere, it is held on 1 November, but with celebrations beginning on the evening of 31 October, as the Celtic day began and ended at sunset. This is about halfway between the autumn equinox and winter solstice. It is one of the four quarter days associated with Gaelic seasonal festivals, along with Imbolc, Beltane and Lughnasa. Historically, it was widely observed throughout Ireland, Scotland, and the Isle of Man (where it is called 'Sauin'). A similar festival was held by the Brittonic Celtic people, called Calan Gaeaf in Wales, Kalan Gwav in Cornwall, and Kalan Goañv in Brittany.
Samhain is believed to have Celtic pagan origins, and some Neolithic passage tombs in Ireland are aligned with the sunrise at the time of Samhain. It is first mentioned in the earliest Irish literature, from the 9th century, and is associated with many important events in Irish mythology. The early literature says Samhain was marked by great gatherings and feasts, and was when the ancient burial mounds were open, which were seen as portals to the Otherworld. Some of the literature also associates Samhain with bonfires and sacrifices.
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