Thanks to Séamas for a lovely article on hallowe’en/samhain
The sun has set, the bonfires are being lit, and the Feis Shamhna is upon us: the nocturnal festival of Samhain marking the commencement of the new year in the Celtic calendars of Ireland, Scotland and the Isle of Man. This ancient celebration was partly assimilated by the Christian religions in the Medieval period as All Saints’ Day or All Hallows’ Eve (Halloween) and has been revived in recent times as the Celtic New Year. Samhain itself is one of the four great quarter-festivals of the Gaelic year alongside Iombolg, Bealtaine and Lúghnasa (or Lúnasa), and one of the two dividing points on the calendar between the winter and summer halves of the year (the latter beginning with Bealtaine or May-Eve/May-Day).
In purely practical terms Samhain marked the moment when agricultural communities began to batten down the hatches and prepare to wait out the increasingly dark and dismal days ahead. Cattle and other valuable livestock were brought down from their hillside pastures, and placed in pens or…
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