Autumn has arrived, and with it comes the advent of Samhain, a Gaelic holiday celebrated by Pagans and Wiccans, which is the year's third and final harvest festival. Brush up on your Samhain knowledge with our 10 facts to know.
1. Samhain is celebrated from sunset on October 31 to sunset on November 1, almost halfway between the autumn equinox and the winter solstice.
2. Some modern Pagans consider it the "witch's new year," though other traditions simply recognize Samhain as the end of the year, says Kelley Harrell, the author of 'Gift of the Dreamtime.'
3. Rituals surrounding Samhain include bonfires, healing, dancing, thanksgiving, and honoring of the dead.
4. It is one of the four Gaelic seasonal festivals along with Imbolc, Beltane, and Lughnasadh.
5. It's considered a liminal time, when the veil between life and death grows thin. Food is set aside for ancestors and protective spirits, and rituals honoring the dead take place.
6. Samhain is pronounced "sah-win" or "sow-in."
7. Samhain is one of the original festivals behind the holiday we know as Halloween.
8. As it was believed that faeries, witches, and demons roamed the earth on Samhain, food and drink were customarily set out to placate them. Later on, people began dressing up as these creatures and claiming the goodies for themselves, sometimes performing antics or tricks in exchange for food and drink. This practice evolved into trick-or-treating.
9. Some of Halloween's most common traditions are rooted in Samhain's harvest festival roots, such as the carving of pumpkins and bobbing for apples.
10. Some celebrate Samhain with a ritual to guide the dead home by opening a western-facing door or window and placing a candle by the opening.
How do you celebrate Samhain? Let us know in the comments!