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    Autumn Festivals

    Samhain was the Celtic New Year. This festival first started when the Celts living in Ireland honored Saman (Sham-an) or the Lord of the Dead.

    Thousands of years ago there was a tribe of farmers called the Celts. They knew that the sun helped make their crops grow, so when autumn came the sun began to fade and they believed that the sun would be winter's prisoner for six months.

    They were worried that the sun would not return so to make sure it did they held a festival on October 31. During which time, they would ask the sun to return safely in the summer. All cooking fires were put out and a huge bonfire was lit on the hillside. Here they pray for the sun would shine brightly after winter was over.

    The next morning everyone in the country would return to the hillside and take a piece of the burning wood from the remains of the bonfire and light new fires, in their homes so as to bring good luck. Feasts would be held over the new fires and people would dress up in costumes made out of animal skins. It was believed these costumes would protect people from bad luck.

    This is how Hallowe'en or Samhain is said to have begun and is still celebrated today.

    Cats were considered by the Celts also to be spirits and that cats could predict the future.

    In Ireland the black cat is considered to be bad luck and if it crosses your path while you are walking along, or crosses the threshold of your home or ship it is considered bad luck.

    Children dress up in costumes, wear masks, and carry lighted lanterns from house to house to receive treats or play a trick. The lanterns they carry are often made out of turnips, with scary faces and candles inside. Pumpkin lanterns are also used.

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