Definitions for Samhain
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A holiday, falling on the night of the 31 of October to the 1 of November, celebrated by the ancient Celts as a festival marking the beginning of winter and the new year, on which it was believed that the dead could return to the earth on that one night.
One of the eight Sabbats celebrated in Wicca.
Origin: Irish Gaelic, from samain 'Halloween', from samoni(o)s (compare samoni-), either from sam 'together' (compare saman 'together', Gothic samana 'together, in common', samaná 'together', sám 'with', ha(m) 'together'), or alternatively from samo- 'summer' (compare sam 'summer', haf 'summer')
Samhain is a Gaelic festival marking the end of the harvest season and the beginning of winter or the "darker half" of the year. Most commonly it is held on 31 October–1 November, or halfway between the autumn equinox and the winter solstice. Along with Imbolc, Beltane and Lughnasadh it makes up the four Gaelic seasonal festivals. It was observed in Ireland, Scotland and the Isle of Man. Kindred festivals were held at the same time of year in other Celtic lands; for example the Brythonic Calan Gaeaf, Kalan Gwav and Kalan Goañv. Samhain is mentioned in some of the earliest Irish literature. Many important events in Irish mythology happen or begin on Samhain. It was the time when cattle were brought back down from the summer pastures and when livestock were slaughtered for the winter. In much of the Gaelic world, bonfires were lit and there were rituals involving them, as at Beltane. People and their livestock would often walk between two bonfires as a cleansing ritual, and the bones of slaughtered livestock were cast into its flames. Samhain was seen as a time when the "door" to the Otherworld opened enough for the souls of the dead, and other beings, to come into our world. Feasts were had, at which the souls of dead kin were beckoned to attend and a place set at the table for them. It has thus been likened to a festival of the dead. People also took steps to protect themselves from harmful spirits, which is thought to have led to the custom of guising. Divination was also done at Samhain.
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