Celtic for ‘summers end’, Samhain is one of the most important dates in the Celtic calendar, if not the most important. It marks the completion of one year and the beginning of another.

Calan Gaeaf is the name of the first day of winter in Wales, observed on 1 November.[1] The night before is Nos Galan Gaeaf[1] or Noson Galan Gaeaf, an Ysbrydnos (“spirit night”[2]) when spirits are abroad. Traditionally, people avoid churchyards, stiles, and crossroads, since spirits are thought to gather there. The term is first recorded in literature as “Kalan Gayaf” in the laws of Hywel Dda.[3]

The same term, Kalan Gwav, is found in the Cornish language, and Kalan Goañv in Breton.

Time for lamps and fires to be relit

ghosts lurking in dark corners

ancestors to be met

acknowledged, understood, forgiven

made peace with

time of letting go

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