Samhain, or in Gaelic Scots: Samhuinn, the end of summer, the Celtic new year, is celebrated today.
Samhain marked the time for shepherds to move their flocks from their summer pasture closer to the protection of home and stable. Fodder for the animals had been stored, the harvests preserved and meat salted, firewood and peat stacked for the long winter months. Field work stopped and all hands were busy indoors. It was this time of forced family togetherness which helped to foster the Celtic storytelling traditions.
In early times, local families would extinguish their hearth fires early on Samhain, a ritual ending of the year. In the evening the local healer would build the Samhain fire, a bonfire upon which gifts symbolizing wishes, prayers, sacrifices were tossed. Each family would return home with a torch lit from the fire to rekindle their hearth with the blessings of the new season.
Samhain was repurposed by the Christian church as All Saints Day, a day to honor the saints newly created in the last year.