All Hallow’s Eve2 min read

So, two times of the year, the People (we’re talking Irish, Scottish, Welsh) moved. Once around May 1st to bring their animals to the lower summer pastures. The other was around October 31st to bring their animals to up high to the winter pastures. Consequentially, people marked that time by informing the local Aes Sidhe (you might know them as elves, the wee folk, or fairies) and the Acestors of the move. In the best of ways of course.

They threw a large party.

Folks lit bonfires; people were cleansed… by jumping through fire of course. Families prepped food and drink. In addition, if you represented an ancestor or one of the Folk by wearing a costume, people -always- made room at the table. Unbelievers, amused at this little tradition called it a sacred night: the hallowed evening or Halloween.

Followers knew it — know it — as Samhain.

Etymologists think Samhain comes from the same root as “summer” and that Beltaine means “bale fire.”

Does this sound right for a poetic people?

Nope.

So, the word beatha means life. And ainn modifies a word, pumping up its meaning. In other words, if you add ainn to anger, the word translates to violent. Heat becomes fiery, poor becomes impoverished, etc. etc. That means you can translate Beltaine poetically to “A hell of a lot of life!”

Samhain, though. That’s different. Sa is a term that means “a” (as in a day). Mhain means “only, alone”. Which makes Samhain “One, Alone.”

One time of year, heading into spring and summer, celebrating the abundance that is to come. The other? In essence, reminding everyone of the dark to come, of death and being alone. Poetic opposites full with meaning. And both times greeted with parties. One a celebration of what we are about to receive. The other in gratitude of what we had.

A blessed Samhain to all of you out there. May those who visit always lend you a kindly eye.

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