|The Day of the Dead|
Samhuinn (Scottish spelling) was and in some cases, still is celebrated in Scotland, Ireland and The Isle of Man. It is the time of year by which the harvest must be gathered in and everything is ready and prepared for winter. This is also the time when the country folk brought their cattle down from the summer pastures to be closer to the farm and selected the ones to be slaughtered to provide food for the communities over the coming winter months.
Although November 1st is officially Samhuinn, the night of October 31st or November's Eve plays an important part in the festival because it is believed that this is the night that the veil separating our world from the other world is at its thinnest and so the souls of the dead are invited back into this world to share in the great feast. Traditionally a place at the table is set for them so that they can join in the celebrations. The problem with this of course is that not only good spirits can come through the veil. Evil and malevolent spirits can also cross over and this is how the tradition of 'guising' (disguising oneself), came about. People would wear masks and turn their clothes inside out so that 'bad' spirits wouldn't be able to recognise them. The insides would be scooped out of turnips or swedes (not an easy job) and faces cut into the side of them. Candles were placed inside the hollowed out vegetables and they became known as Jack O' Lanterns. These were carried around the villages to ward off negativity and frighten away evil spirits.
And so, hopefully, from this you can see where many of today's Hallowe'en traditions originated. By the way, Hallowe'en is the Christian name for the Samhuinn festival and was adopted much later on. The word was originally Hallowmas.