Samhain: Old Irish "Summer's End"
The last day of the Celtic year, with the new year beginning at sundown on October 31. It was the last of the harvest festivals, and was believed to be a time when the seperation between our world and the otherworld grew thin; departed souls (those who had not been reincarnated, that is, since the Celts believed in such) and the gods could mingle freely with the rest of us. The tradition of carving a jack-o-lantern may be derived from the Celtic worship of the head; the Irish would carve a face into a squash or similar gourd (not a pumpkin, as that is a New World plant). For more, see the w/u on Samhain.
In Wales, it is called Nos Galen-gaeof--"Night of the Winter Kalends"--and on this day, (according to the Ford translation of the Hanes Taliesin), Elphin ap Gwyddno fished young Taliesin out of the weir, thus saving him from possible drownding.
Halloween: Middle English contraction of "All Hallows' Eve"
The day before the Catholic celebration of All Saints' Day. (see Halloween).
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