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Scots Gaelic samhainn, Old Irish samain "summer's end", from sam "summer" and fuin "end" is a festival on the end of the harvest season in Gaelic and Brythonic cultures, with aspects of a festival of the dead.
Many scholars believe that it was the beginning of the Celtic year. The term derives from the name of a month in the ancient Celtic calendar, in particular the first three nights of this month, with the festival marking the end of the summer season and the end of the harvest.
The Gaelic festival became associated with the Catholic Pre writing activities junior infants christmas Souls' Day, and appears to have influenced the secular customs now connected with Halloween.
Samhain is also the name of a festival in various currents of Neopaganism inspired by Gaelic tradition. Etymology The Irish word Samhain is derived from the Old Irish samain, samuin, or samfuin, all referring to November 1st latha na samna: Its meaning is glossed as 'summer's end', and the frequent spelling with f suggests analysis by popular etymology as sam 'summer' and fuin 'sunset', 'end'.
Whitley Stokes in KZ The Irish samain would be etymologically unrelated to 'summer', and derive from 'assembly'. But note that the name of the month is of Proto-Celtic age, cf.
Old Irish gem-adaig 'winter's night'. This interpretation would either invalidate the 'assembly' explanation given above, or push back the time of the re-interpretation by popular etymology to very early times indeed. History The Gaulish calendar appears to have divided the year into two halves: The entire year may have been considered as beginning with the 'dark' half, so that the beginning of Samonios may be considered the Celtic New Year's day.
The celebration of New Year itself may have taken place during the 'three nights of Samonios' Gaulish trinux[tion] samo[nii]the beginning of the lunar cycle which fell nearest to the midpoint between the autumnal equinox and the winter solstice.
The lunations marking the middle of each half-year may also have been marked by specific festivals. The Coligny calendar marks the mid-summer moon see Lughnasadhbut omits the mid-winter one.
The seasons are not oriented at the solar year, viz. It appears that the calendar was designed to align the lunations with the agricultural cycle of vegetation, and that the exact astronomical position of the Sun at that time was considered less important.
In medieval Ireland, Samhain became the principal festival, celebrated with a great assembly at the royal court in Tara, lasting for three days.
After being ritually started on the Hill of Tlachtga, a bonfire was set alight on the Hill of Tara, which served as a beacon, signaling to people gathered atop hills all across Ireland to light their ritual bonfires.
The custom has survived to some extent, and recent years have seen a resurgence in participation in the festival. Samhain was identified in Celtic literature as the beginning of the Celtic year and its description as "Celtic New Year" was popularised in 18th century literature From this usage in the Romanticist Celtic Revival, Samhain is still popularly regarded as the "Celtic New Year" in the contemporary Celtic cultures, both in the Six Celtic Nations and the diaspora.
For instance, the contemporary calendars produced by the Celtic League begin and end at Samhain. It is important to remember that all of the written documents in places like Ireland and Wales date to a time after the arrival of Christianity in the 5th century.
Thus, while evidence such as folklore and ancient sagas may suggest certain associations with Samhain, these all are observed in a Christian context. There is absolutely no evidence as to whether and how this time might have been observed in any pre-Christian culture.
Celtic Folklore The Samhain celebrations have survived in several guises as a festival dedicated to the harvest and the dead.Dear Twitpic Community - thank you for all the wonderful photos you have taken over the years.
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