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The Festival of Samhain

Samhain Date Celebrated
1st November

Alternate Names
Samhna, Halloween, Hallowe'en, Celtic "Feast of the Dead," Samhuin

Christian Equivalent
All Saints' Day, Allhallows, Hallowmas, Allhallowmas

Place in the Natural Cycle

Samhain (pronounced "Sow-en") is the cross-quarter festival that marks the start of the winter quarter of the year and the end of the autumn quarter. By Samhain, threadbare trees and colder nights make it clear that winter is near.

More About Samhain

Samhain is the time of the third and final harvest when, in earlier days, cattle were brought in from summer pastures. Excess livestock was slaughtered and the meat smoked or salted for winter. Samhain is a time for divination and honoring the dead, for the veil that divides the mundane and subtle realms is considered to be particularly insubstantial on this day.

To the Celts, this was the Feast of the Dead and the Night of the Wild Hunt. Samhain marked the Celtic New Year and was the most important of the festivals. As with other festivals, Samhain is not constrained by the artificial midnight to midnight divisions of modern conception, and it is usually considered as starting at sundown on October 31st and ending at sundown on November 1st. Thus much of the celebration of Samhain does occur at the most appropriate time: Halloween.

The Christian tradition treats Samhain as a Festival of the Dead too, with the souls of departed saints remembered on 1st November (All Saints' Day), and those of the non-canonized dead the following day (All Souls' Day). The Church established All Saints' Day in the seventh century when the Pantheon in Rome was consecrated as the Church of the Blessed Virgin and All Martyrs, recasting both the Festival of the Dead and the Temple to All Gods in terms of Christian theology.

Samhain is a time to look back to the past and forward to the future. It is beneficial to reflect on those you have known and the experiences you have shared, as well as to take the time to view the possibilities ahead of you. Samhain is a profound time of the year, offering the opportunity of understanding.

The Mystical Calendar
The Eight Festivals:     Yule   -   Imbolc   -   Ostara   -   Beltane   -   Litha   -   Lughnasadh   -   Mabon   -   Samhain