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October 31, 2022
Samhain is celebrated October 31st. This is the third harvest when all crops should be in. Anything not harvested was left in the fields. Samhain is a Gaelic word that means “Summer’s End”, so Samhain was the beginning of winter. For the Celtic people of Europe and the British Isles, this was the end of the year as they began and ended their calendar with Samhain. So, for Pagans, it is New Year’s Eve. Samhain is also known as “the day between the years.” The day before Samhain was the last day of the old year, and the day after Samhain is the first day of the new year, so Samhain itself is literally the day between the years. Being between the years was a very magical time when the veils between past, present, and future may be lifted. It was a time of no time, when order and structure were abolished, and chaos could reign. For three days, because all Celtic holidays lasted for three days, men dressed as women, and women as men, children knocked on neighbor’s doors for food and treats, practical jokes were pulled. For pastoral people Samhain was when the herds and flocks were moved to the lower winter pastures, and when the herds were culled and animals slaughtered – a time of great anxiety – for it was necessary to slaughter enough to provide meat for the winter months ahead, but not too many to endanger the herd. And that brings us back to Yule, the completion of one full turn on the Wheel of the Year and the beginning of another.