BBC – Religion & Ethics – Samhain: “Samhain
31st October / 1st November
Samhain (pronounced ‘sow’inn’) is the most important date in the Pagan calendar as it marks the beginning of the year for most Pagans (although some Pagans use Imbolc). It is also celebrated by non-Pagans who call this festival Halloween.
This time of year has been celebrated in Britain for centuries and was the most important festival of the year for the Celts of iron age Ireland who saw it as a time when gods of the Otherworld mingled with men. They celebrated with feasting and boasted about their conquests in battle, proving their stories by showing the tongues of their opponents on sticks.
When the Romans invaded Britain they included elements of their harvest celebrations in which they honoured the goddess of the fruits of trees, Pomona. Later when Christians took on the festival they concealed it in the guise of All Saints day (or All Hallows Eve), when the all Christian saints were remembered. “