If you scroll back to our previous Hallowe'en entries, starting a year ago, you'll find details of Hallowe'en. However, we would like to remind readers that, despite what they may have read, it was never the feast of a death-god named Samhain. This piece of fiction first appears in a book by Charles Vallency (1731-1812).
Samhain is the word for a Celtic feast held on the first of November. Its possible meaning is "end of summer". The night before, 31st October, was called Oiche Shamhna (Irish)/Oidhche Shamhna (Scottish Gaelic), meaning the Night of Samhain. At this season the doors between this world and the Otherworld, including the realm of the dead, were believed to be open. Ghosts and fairies were about. In other Celtic regions it was called Calan Gaeaf (Wales), Kalan Gwav (Cornwall) and Kalan Goañv (Brittany). In England it was largely unknown until introduced from America in modern times.
The Latin rite of the Catholic Church, doubtless to lessen the feeling of change when Christianity arrived, held All Saints' Day (All Hallows) on November 1st, while Oiche Shamhna was called the All Hallows' Eve (Hallowe'en).
In Mexico there was a feast called the Day of the Dead, which was inherited from the Native Americans, but moved from its original date by the Catholic Church to coincide with Hallowe'en, All Saints' Day and All Souls' Day (November 2nd).
Tuesday, 30 October 2018
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