from Irish Samhain [ˈsˠaunʲ], cf. Scottish Gaelic Samhuinn [ˈsavɯɲ], Manx Gaelic Sauin and Old Irish Samain [ˈsaṽɨnʲ] — "summer's end", from sam meaning "summer" and fuin meaning "end") is a festival held on October 31–November 1 in Gaelic cultures. A harvest festival with ancient roots in Celtic paganism, it was linked to festivals held around the same time in other Celtic cultures, and continued to be celebrated in late medieval times.
Samhain marked the end of the harvest, the end of the "lighter half" of the year and beginning of the "darker half". Many scholars believe that it was the beginning of the Celtic year. It has some elements of a festival of the dead. The Gaels believed that the border between this world and the otherworld became thin on Samhain. Bonfires played a large part in the festivities. People and their livestock would often walk between two bonfires as a cleansing ritual, and the bones of slaughtered livestock were cast into its flames.
The Gaelic festival became associated with the Christian All Saints' Day and All Souls' Day, and has influenced the secular customs now connected with Halloween. It continues to be celebrated as a religious festival by some Neopagans.
Samhain and an t-Samhuinn are also the Irish and Scottish Gaelic names of November, respectively.
As we run back and forth between parties and trick-or-treat and trying to hold serious ritual and celebrate the thinning of the veil, remember to keep things separate. Not all spirits are benevolent and not all gods and goddesses are receptive to being called upon if you haven't introduced yourself previously. If you cast a circle, make it a strong one, call on elements and deities that already know you. Experience the thinning of the veil, but do so with caution and respect.
I plan to do ritual at midnight, the mundane activities will all be over and the power is stronger.
Enjoy the night, everyone.