Samhain
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SAMHAIN

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,[1] as the Celtic day began and ended at sunset.[2] 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.

DATABASES
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,[1] as the Celtic day began and ended at sunset.[2] 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.
Ancient Celts marked Samhain as the most significant of the four quarterly fire festivals, taking place at the midpoint between the fall equinox and the winter solstice. During this time of year, hearth fires in family homes were left to burn out while the harvest was gathered.

After the harvest work was complete, celebrants joined with Druid priests to light a community fire using a wheel that would cause friction and spark flames. The wheel was considered a representation of the sun and used along with prayers. Cattle were sacrificed, and participants took a flame from the communal bonfire back to their home to relight the hearth.

Early texts present Samhain as a mandatory celebration lasting three days and three nights where the community was required to show themselves to local kings or chieftains. Failure to participate was believed to result in punishment from the gods, usually illness or death.
To understand what we do know about Samhain, it’s important to recognize how the structure of the year’s calendar affected the Celts’ religious practices. According to The Guardian, much of modern pagan practice is based on the wheel of the year, a major determining factor in Celtic worship. The Celtic year was divided into two halves — light and dark, which were delineated by two of their four annual fire festivals. In between, rituals or ceremonies were celebrated marking solstices (when night is either the shortest or longest) or equinoxes (when day and night are equal). Samhain, the fire festival that marked the beginning of the dark half of the year, is situated between the autumn equinox and the winter solstice.

Encyclopedia Britannica notes that, during this festival, the world of the gods “was believed to be made visible to humankind,” leading to supernatural tricks and trouble; ghosts of the dead and spirits from the Otherworld were also thought to return to the earth during Samhain. To appease deities during this time, sacrifices (generally of crops and animals) were burned in bonfires as a protective measure from from evil otherworldly beings and offerings were left out for other visiting mischievous spirits. Tricks and pranks were often played, but blamed on fairies and spirits during the three-day period when the line between the two worlds blurred.
Samhain, (Celtic: “End of Summer”) also spelled Samain, in ancient Celtic religion, one of the most important and sinister calendar festivals of the year. At Samhain, held on November 1, the world of the gods was believed to be made visible to humankind, and the gods played many tricks on their mortal worshippers; it was a time fraught with danger, charged with fear, and full of supernatural episodes. Sacrifices and propitiations of every kind were thought to be vital, for without them the Celts believed they could not prevail over the perils of the season or counteract the activities of the deities. Samhain was an important precursor to Halloween.
Halloween is said to be largely influenced by Samhain, a Gaelic festival that marks the end of the harvest season and the start of the darker half of the year (winter). Samhain has a long history, having been mentioned in some of the earliest Irish literature; the celebration is known to actually have pre-Christian roots. It is celebrated on the 31st of October beginning at sunset and ending at sunset on the 1st of November. Samhain was one of four Gaelic festivals that marked the seasons and was mainly observed in Scotland, Ireland, and the Isle of Man. The Samhain festival consisted of the slaughtering of animals for winter, rituals involving bonfires that were said to have cleansing and protective powers, and more. During Samhain, it was believed that fairies or spirits could more easily enter our world. Many of these spirits were thought to be remnants of nature spirits and pagan gods. Food and drink were offered to the spirits during Samhain and it was thought that the souls of the dead revisited their homes during this time. In current times, many Wiccans and Celtic neopagans observe Samhain as a religious holiday.

Samhain dates back to Gaelic Ireland and is attested in some of the earliest Irish literature from the 10th century. It was one of four seasonal festivals, the others being Beltane, Imbolc, and Lughnasadh, and was thought to have been one of the most important festivals of the year. Contrary to popular belief, Samhain is not a celebration of the Celtic god of the dead, and instead celebrates the end of the harvest season and the beginning of winter.
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