Samhainn

Introduction

Tumshie lantern – Samhainn 2015

Tumshie lantern – Samhainn 2015

Like the other Quarter Days, the festival of Samhainn is difficult to sum up in one simple sentence. On the one hand, it traditionally marks the end of summer and the transition into winter and all that implies – on a practical level – in a pastoral society. On the other hand, Samhainn is marked by a strong element of the supernatural, when Otherworldly beings roam the land freely and there is a strong sense of danger present – more so than with any other festival from the records that have survived.

The sheer volume of material that has survived regarding Samhainn can be seen as a testament to its importance and popularity in the Gaelic world. Throughout Irish myth, this festival is mentioned more than any other; churchmen, antiquarians, folklorists from the sixteenth century onwards seem to have been fascinated by the variety of celebrations and practices they encountered in the more rural communities in Scotland and Ireland, which even during these times were seen as remnants of a pagan past, slowly dying out as modern industrial society spread and Gaelic culture began to die out.

There is one source in particular that is notably silent on the subject of Samhainn, however, which is usually a wealth of information on the festivals. This is Alexander Carmichael’s Carmina Gadelica, which is almost entirely absent of any mention of the day (barring brief and passing references to it, where it’s unavoidable). Evidently the overt supernatural elements to the festival, which can be seen so obviously compared to the other Quarter Days, were not compatible with Carmichael’s Christian sensibilities – he felt the day was too pagan to be brought to the attention of decent folk.

In some parts of Scotland, the perception of the festival as being so inherently pagan (predominantly by the Protestant church) was enough for local kirks to try and ban any celebration of the day, particularly the lighting of the bonfires associated with it. This uneasy relationship with the ‘pagan’ elements of Samhainn, which coincides with the festival of All Saints Day can be seen as early as 1589, when ‘hallowmas fires’ that were lit to celebrate the festival in Stirling were banned by the presbytery (the local governing body for the Presbyterian church in the area). Similar orders were made in 1648 at Fife and Slains, and at Elglin in 1641 anyone found to be selling nuts (for the purposes of divination) at dusk on Hallowe’en could get into trouble with the presbytery in that area. Given the persistence of the celebrations – albeit in increasingly isolated parts of Scotland and Ireland – well into the twentieth century, such orders by the church on a local level seem to have had little effect.1

The dating of Samhainn

Samhainn falls on November 1, and therefore, as the Celts are commonly regarded as having started their days at night,2 it is technically celebrated from the eve of October 31. Typically, however, things aren’t as straightforward as this.

The calendar as we know it today was only instituted in Great Britain in 1751. Before the introduction of this Gregorian calendar, Britain used the old classical Julian calendar. Pope Gregory XIII had originally altered the Julian calendar in 1582 by adding a number of days in order to prevent the seasons slipping further back – bringing the calendar in line with the Earth’s orbit around the sun of approximately 365 days. Britain resisted the change initially and so kept to the Julian calendar for nearly 200 hundred years after the rest of Europe had accepted the Gregorian calendar. This resulted in a difference of 11 days between the Julian and Gregorian calendar by the time it was adopted in Britain. In effect, when the new calendar was adopted, January 1 in the Julian calendar (or Old Style), became January 12 in the Gregorian calendar (or New Style). This was not popular with the people, and many areas resisted the change, not wanting to lose their days. Even in the latter half of the nineteenth century, some people in Scotland (especially in the rural areas), still kept their festivals according to the Old Style – by which time the calendars had drifted to twelve days apart.3  As a result, when the Gregorian calendar came into effect, November 13 became November 1. A lot of people, who didn’t fully understand why this change had been made, were pretty annoyed about “losing” twelve days. On top of that, it was just plain inconvenient, so while the “New Style” dates were officially embraced by the state, a lot of people stuck with the “Old Style” dates.

Dates given for the celebration of Samhainn in antiquarian sources can therefore refer to Old Style or New Style reckoning. John Gregorson Campbell remarked that days were always reckoned according to the Old Style in the Highlands and Islands.4 In the majority of rural communities in Scotland, then, Samhainn would have most likely been fixed at November 13 (according to our modern reckoning) during the nineteenth century. Ronald Black suggests that it was only when primary school education was introduced for all children in 1872 that things began to change significantly, and the New Style became widely used by younger generations. From this point onwards, festivals such as New Year’s Day and Samhainn would have been ‘officially’ shifted to the first of the month, and the use of Old Style reckoning would slowly have died out with the older generation.5 In some cases – especially in Scotland – as the New Style calendar gradually came to be accepted by more and more people, some observed both Old and New Style dates for the festivals “just in case,” giving rise to “Big” and “Little” Samhainn.

However, although we see November 1 as the “actual,” fixed date for Samhainn, with some ambiguity between the Old and New Style date, the fixed nature of this festival may not be so clear cut. In discussing Bealltainn, Alexander Carmichael notes that while the date for the festival was generally regarded as being May 1, the celebrations to welcome in the summer could begin at any time as was felt appropriate – i.e. when it was warm enough for the animals to be taken to summer pastures where they could gain access to an abundance of fresh grass. This could either be before or after May 1, depending on the weather, and naturally it could be assumed that the occasion would be marked with the traditional festivities as the procession was made to the summer pastures. Given the fact that Samhainn generally marked the end of the harvest and the onset of winter, it also naturally coincided with the end of the summer pasturing. As such, it is conceivable that in some areas, at least, the date of Samhainn may also originally have been fairly flexible, being observed whenever the harvest was in and done, or whenever it was time for the summer pasturing to finish. In this respect, perhaps with November 1 being the latest possible date of celebration as suggested by some folklore which places a prohibition on picking fruits or harvesting crops after Samhainn (see below).

The supernatural nature of Samhainn

There is a supernatural, otherworldly element to all of the Quarter Days, since it is a common belief that the Otherworld is temporarily upset at these times as one quarter transitions into another. In effect, the eve of the Quarter Days acts as a sort of liminal zone (threshold/ambiguous time or space) between one quarter and the next, where the gates between this world and the Otherworld are open and inhabitants from both worlds can freely interact. At Samhainn, however, this ‘upset’ is more like a complete upheaval. Chaos and confusion reign, and the inhabitants of the Otherworld roam around in the physical world freely. Danger from these otherworldly denizens is an ever-present element to anyone who venture outside on the eve of Samhainn.

Faeries are said to roam around on this eve, as they also do on Friday nights and at Hogmanay. They pass (‘flit’) from one fairy-mound to another, accompanied by the sound of bells and elf-horns. Anyone unlucky enough to meet them as they carry out their procession might be snatched away to fairy, and it is said that these unlucky mortals can only be rescued after a year and a day when charms are considered to be potent enough to overcome the fairies.6

In Ireland, these processions are also said to have taken place, and as early as the fourteenth century records show that Brugh na Boinne was thought to be the site of games and feasts of nuts by the daoine sìth on this day, perhaps an echo of the many examples of feasts and games that are said to have taken place at this time in Irish myths, and which also historically took place in many towns and villages at this time of year. In other parts of Ireland, Samhainn is the time when the fairy hosts engage in battles with each other, and it is said that the red lichen found on rocks is the blood that has been spilled during these battles.7

Also in Ireland, it is said that those who have been abducted by fairies can often be seen by friends as the host pass them by at this time of year. In order to force the fairies to return any human abductees, the dust from under your feet should be thrown at them; to divert the attention of the daoine sìth and avoid the risk of getting taken yourself, it is said that turning one’s coat inside-out is enough to act as a disguise and keep you safe.8

In Scotland, a twig of rowan and red wool may be carried in the pocket, these charms being good protection.9 In Ireland, carrying a black handled knife or a steel needle stuck in the sleeve or coat collar is considered to be an equally effective precaution.10 Keeping clear of churchyards is a must, unless the person wants to meet the dead – or worse – and it is also imperative for the traveller to never look behind them if footsteps are heard, because this means the dead are following them.11 If all else fails, travellers can always fall back on safety in numbers, and a good dose of faith and hope. Or, of course, there’s the option of dressing up in a more elaborate disguise (see below).

Given the time of year, when winter is beginning to set in, trees are now bare and the land is barren, it is perhaps inevitable that the festival has also come to be associated with the dead. Thus the dead are believed to walk freely at this time, and on the eve of All Souls (November 1), it is believed that they will visit their old homes, their own families. It is customary to leave food and drink out for them over night, once you have gone to bed, and all the doors of the house should (ideally) be left unlocked so that they can enter easily:

“It’s the nicht atween the Sancts and Souls
When the bodiless gang aboot,
An’ it’s open hoose we keep the nicht
For ony that may be oot.”12

Candles may be lit for each dead member of the family, as prayers are said for them. In Limerick, places are laid for them at the dinner table as well, and a poker and tongs were placed in the hearth, in the shape of a cross. In County Tyrone, we are told: “After the floor has been swept and a good fire put down on the hearth, the family retires early, leaving the door unlatched and a bowl of spring water on the table, so that any relative who had died may find a place prepared for him at his own fireside.”13

In addition to the fairy hosts and souls of the dead, witches and warlocks are supposed to be out and about, believed in Scotland to be flying on their broomsticks, floating around in egg shells, or galloping on black-steeds (that are actually tabby cats that have been transformed for the night). They ride to meet and celebrate their diabolical festival, and as protection against their mischief and malevolence, in both Scotland and Ireland, peats, wood and any other type of kindling are collected from households in order to build a bonfire to ‘burn the witches,’ though in many places (in Scotland and Northern Ireland) these bonfires have shifted to Guy Fawkes’ Night on November 5.14

Other supernatural beings are also said to be a threat to people who venture abroad on the eve of Samhainn. In Scotland:

“At the mouth of the night, between daylight and dark, came abroad ill things to meet, from out the earth, from out the air, from out the water and the Underworld…The mouth of the night is the choice hour of the Sluath, the Host of the Dead, whose feet never touch the earth as they go drifting on the wind…of the Fuath, the Spirit of Terror, that frightens folk out of the husk of their hearts; of the Washer, who sits herself in the twilight; of the slim, green-coated ones, the Water-Horse, and what not. The light that is shadowless, colourless, softer than moonlight, is ever the light of their liking. At the mouth of the night, along the water-courses by ways that at the hour of dusk and of lateness you had best be shunning, you are like to meet them; to west of houses they pass – what to do, who shall say? Their ways being nowise human…”15

In Ireland, one of the most fearsome creatures said to be abroad at this time is the púca, commonly thought to be some form of demonic dog or horse. It is usually described as being black with red eyes, or else it may be a black fellow riding a dark horse. Any crops that have not yet been harvested, or fruits that are still on trees and bushes, are said to be pissed or spat on by the púca in order to spoil them, and they are therefore considered to be ‘contaminated’ and unfit for human consumption. On a practical level, any fruits still left on the trees and bushes by this time are probably well past their prime and are likely to make anyone ill, so the idea of the produce having been contaminated by the púca is a suitably terrifying prospect to any child tempted to try them. Any fruits should therefore be left to ripen and rot, and any remaining crops destroyed.16

Legend has it, in Ireland in particular, that the daoine sìth control the ripening of the crops in the fields, and when yields are low it was said to be a reflection of disturbance in the Otherworld. Speaking of the great potato famine of 1846-7, John Glynn, the town clerk of Tuam, said:

“Old Thady Steed once told me about the conditions then prevailing, ‘Sure, we couldn’t be any other way; and I saw the good people and hundreds beside me saw them fighting in the sky over Knock Ma and on towards Galway.’ And I heard others say they saw fighting also.”17

In some parts, households and farmsteads might deliberately leave a portion of the potato or corn crop in the ground, or outside their houses, as a gift to the fairies to ensure their benevolence for the year to come and ensure a good crop in the coming year.18 Any food or drink left out to the good folk at night is not allowed to be eaten by any person or animal – “not even a pig” – for while the food itself might be left, the toradh, ‘substance’ or ‘spiritual essence’ of it would be taken by the fairies, thus “leaving behind the grosser elements.”19 Perhaps the offerings are also intended to distract or appease the daoine sìth, to encourage them to leave the household alone for the evening.

According to Alexander Carmichael, the first Monday of each quarter holds similar dangers to the Quarter Day (any Quarter Day) itself. This is said to be a prime time for the evil eye to be aimed at other people, and for witches to steal milk away from cows, or prosperity away from households (as the milk of the cows represents). Traditionally, people do not lend anything to anyone on a Quarter Day (or the Monday after), lest the luck of the household should leave with the item being lent, as illustrated by the following poem:

“The first Monday of the quarter,
Take care that luck leave not thy dwelling.
The first Monday of the spring quarter,
Leave not thy kine neglected.”20

Extra precautions should therefore taken against such things as the evil eye, and in times past, each member of the household was blessed “with water got from a wisewoman, or with water got from a woman who had the bridle of the water-horse.”21

Samhainn customs

In many respects, Samhainn can be seen as the counterpart of Bealltainn – as F Marian McNeill puts it, “whilst Beltane celebrated the renewal of vegetation, Samhainn solemnised its decay”.22 By the time of Samhainn, crops are supposed to have been harvested and in the days when transhumance was still widely practiced, animals were supposed to have been brought down from summer pastures, and people would have returned to their winter farmsteads on lower ground. The historical traditions associated with Samhainn are inextricably intertwined with this way of life, and we’ll take a look at these now…

Like Bealltainn, a common element of the communal celebrations traditionally focused on the lighting of bonfires by local communities and farmsteads. Whereas at Bealltainn the fires were usually lit at dawn, at Samhainn the fires (called Samhnagan in Scotland, according to Gregorson Campbell23) were lit at dusk. With darkness being an inevitable part of the winter, the fires could be seen to be an attempt to hold back the ‘powers of darkness’ which were now the dominant element over the daytime.24 They also had protective qualities against the supernatural elements that were believed to be abroad that night – the fae, witches, or demonic beings. In Skye, however, local tradition saw that fires were lighted on the headlands in order to attract herrings and ensure a plentiful harvest of them.25

Anne Ross suggests the Samhainn fires were lit with the teine-eigin, or ‘need-fire,’ which is produced by friction – two pieces of wood being rubbed together, sometimes with varying amounts of people involved (usually multiples of three or nine) in the process.26 McNeill also states that need-fires were at one time the usual method for lighting the bonfires, but notes that as time went on the need-fire fell out of use in favour of the more convenient flint, and then the modern match once these became widely available.27 The travel writer Thomas Pennant, however, writing in the eighteenth century, contradicts this notion (at least in terms of arguing it was ‘the norm’ across Scotland, perhaps) in his description of how the Samhnag was lit in an eastern Highland community:

“A person sets fire to a bush of broom fastened around a pole; and attended with a crowd, runs round the village. He then flings it down, heaps great quantity of combustible matters in it, and makes a great bonfire. A whole tract is thus illuminated at the same time, and makes a fine appearance.”28

Equally, while the bonfires may originally have consisted of particular types of wood, later records show that anything vaguely combustible tended to be piled on. Broken timber, dried plants, furze, peat, straw, and even tar-barrels were collected for the effort and local communities often engaged in friendly rivalry with their neighbours to see who could build the biggest. Walter Gregor records that, “In the villages the boys went from house to house and begged a peat from each householder, commonly with the words, ‘Ge’s a peat t’burn the witches.’ In some villages the boys got a cart for the collecting of the peats. Part of them drew the cart, and part of them gathered the peats.”29 Each farmstead would also have a bonfire, which was built in much the same fashion as those of the villages.

Once the fires had died down the ashes would be collected and scattered, or kicked and thrown around in friendly competition by boys and young men to see who could kick the ashes the furthest – as well as to see who could withstand the dangers of the still-burning embers most bravely. Farmers would spread their ashes across their farmland to ensure fertility in the coming year and ward off evil influences, or else the ashes might be spread into a circle and stones would be placed around the circle’s circumference, each stone representing a different person. In the morning, if any stone had been moved it was taken as a sign that the person associated with the moved stone would not survive the coming year. John Ramsay, writing in 1888, described a similar practice where the stones were placed around the bonfire itself. Upon being lit, people (usually young folk) would dance or run around the fire with torches of ferns or sticks. In the morning “…they repaired betimes to the bonfire where the situation of the stones was examined with much attention. If any of them were misplaced, or if the print of a foot could be discerned near any particular stone, it was imagined that the person for whom it was set would not live out the year…”30

In addition to the bonfires, people put fire to good use in other ways during the Samhainn celebrations. Torches of bog-fir or heather, depending on which was most widely available, were lit from the bonfires and taken around the boundaries of farms and fields in order to ward of evil influences in the coming year. As the bonfires became less common, the torches were lit from domestic fires until the practice all but died out in the middle of the nineteenth century.31 In similar fashion, turnips were often hollowed out and carved into frightening faces and placed in windows with candles inside to ward off evil influences from the home – a custom that is still observed in many parts of Ireland, Scotland, and Man today, in spite of the increasingly popular adoption of pumpkins to replace the somewhat harder to carve turnips.32

Other measures of protection for the household and livestock were also taken in Ireland. Wooden crosses were fixed inside the thatch above the door to ward off evil spirits, much like twigs or crosses of rowan and red thread were used in Scotland. Danaher also describes the making of a Parshell, a cross of sticks and straw, that was used to ward against ill luck, sickness and witchcraft, although it was placed directly above the inside of the door:

“This was done by laying two little sticks, seven inches in length, crossways, then starting at their junction by weaving a wheaten straw under one arm, over the next, and so on (adding a fresh straw as the other was used up) until about an inch from the ends of the sticks, when the straw-end was made fast.”33

After being fixed up it was left until the next year, when it would be removed and placed elsewhere in the house or in outbuildings and stables, with the word ‘Fonstarensheehy’ as it was removed; while it’s unclear what this phrase might mean, it seems likely to be a mangled attempt at rendering Irish, possibly something like Fan istigh ar an sídhe, meaning “Stay inside against (to hinder or stop) the fairies.” A new Parshell would be made to replace the old one above the door of the house.34

Parshell Cross

Parshell Cross

After the bonfires had died down and the ashes had been spread over the fields, or used for divinatory purposes, people would return to their homes for the purpose of feasting and merriment.35 Since the coming winter season heralded slim pickings in terms of the availability of fresh foods, people would make the most of the recently harvested produce and freshly fermented drinks, fuelling the fun and festivity – perhaps for this reason, of all the Quarter Days Samhainn was perhaps the most celebrated and festive.

As with the other Quarter Days in Scotland the special festival bannocks would have been made – in this case, called the bonnach Samhthain. In addition to the usual large bannock that was made for the whole household, oatcakes would also be made for each individual member of the family. Any bannock which broke during its making was considered to be ill-omened, and the bannock would be thrown away.36 Sauty bannocks – a bannock baked with a lot of salt – were baked for the purposes of love divination. This bannock was meant to be eaten in three bites, in absolute silence, prior to bed. No water could be drunk either, so that when the person fell asleep their future spouse would come to them in their dreams and offer them water to quench their thirst.37

In most parts of the country the tradition of the Samhainn bannock seems to have been transferred to Michaelmas, the autumn festival held on September 29, and Alexander Carmichael describes the method of making the Michaelmas struan in great detail. Elsewhere, there is mention by Martin of a large triangular bannock being baked by the inhabitants of St Kilda at All Saints (November 1), whereas in Strathclyde the tradition of baking sour cakes on the eve of St Luke’s Fair is recorded.38

Dishes involving kail (a type of cabbage), potatoes – such as colcannon or buttery mashed potatoes, oatmeal – such as crowdie (a dish of buttermilk and meal, usually served at breakfast)39 and sowens (a dish made from the inner husks of the oat-grain, water and salt),40 served with a generous amount of butter as described by Robert Burns in his poem Hallowe’en:

“Till butter’d sow’ns, wi’ fragrant lunt,
Set a’ their gabs a-steerin;
Syne, wi’ a social glass o’ strunt,
They parted aff careerin
Fu’ blythe that night.”41

Seasonal fruits – especially apples and hazelnuts – also formed part of the festive fare, and at the traditional Hallowfairs gingerbread was a common treat to be had.42 Children would often spend the day collecting hazelnuts for the divination rites in the evening, as well as simply for the eating.

In Ireland, Danaher lists colcannon as a Hallowe’en favourite, often served in a large dish with a generous dod of butter melting in the middle so that everyone could dig in and dip each spoonful into the butter before eating it. Meat was not usually served because in Catholic tradition holy days were a day of abstinence. However, this did not mean that other rich and delicious foods were off the menu: “’Stampy’ (cakes made from a blending of grated raw potato and flour, flavoured with sugar, caraway-seeds and cream), ‘boxty’ (similar cakes, but with mashed cooked potato), oatcakes and batter pancakes were favoured too, as were dumplings, apple-cake, blackberry pies, puddings of various sorts.”43 Porridge was also made, and offerings of it were made outside to the good folk, where it was poured into a hole dug into the ground.44 Bairín breac (barmbrack) is still a holiday favourite at this time of year in Ireland, and you can buy a bairín breac in supermarkets with a penny baked into it; whoever gets the portion with the penny gets the luck in the coming year.

Games and divinations, many of which were detailed by Robert Burns in his poem Hallowe’en, were carried out that focused on the pertinent themes associated with coming winter season. Death was never very far from anyone’s mind at this time of year, but matters of love and marriage were also often enquired upon and formed the main basis of divination at this time. The winter months were considered the most appropriate time for weddings because a child conceived in winter was then likely to be born at a time that offered the best chance of survival for both the mother and baby – when it was warm and food was in plentiful supply.45

However, if Samhainn happened to fall on a Wednesday, the omens were considered particularly ill, according to the saying “Nuair as Di-Ciadain an t-Samhainn is iargaineach ‘na déidh – When Hallowmas is on Wednesday it is afflictive after it.” This meant that the winter would be particularly harsh, but it also did not bode well for husbands: “Nuair as ciadaoineach an t-Samhainn/Is iargaineach fir an domhain – When Hallowmas falls on a Wednesday/The men of the world are worried.” As Gregorson Campbell explained, the implication was that the husband would face an impotent winter and a childless autumn, and therefore worried that their wife would look for affections elsewhere – notably in the arms of otherworldly men.46

The types of divination performed tended to take advantage of what was available at that time of year. Apples and nuts are the best known materials, and were perhaps considered to be the most appropriate because of their otherworldly associations, well attested in folklore and mythology.47 Bobbing for apples – or dookin’, in Scots – was always popular. McNeill describes a method for dookin’ in detail:

“A large wooden tub half-filled with water stands in the middle of the floor. Into this is tumbled a pule of polished, red-cheeked apples. The master of ceremonies has a porridge stick…and with this he keeps the apples in constant motion. Each of the company in turn kneels by the tub…and tries to seize an apple in his teeth without the aid of his hands…If he does not succeed after three attempts, he must wait until all the others have had their turn.”48

Sometimes a silver coin was also dropped into the water, and if anyone managed to pick it up (without using their teeth), they were considered to be especially lucky with money – and got to keep the coin as well.49

Another type of divination saw charms being hidden in a large dish of food, such as fuarag (crowdie) in the Highlands, sowans in the Lowlands, or in more recent times, champit tatties – a big pile of buttery mashed potatoes. Sometimes only one charm was placed in the dish, usually a ring. Each person present was given a spoon with which they could take a spoonful (or else have at the dish until the charm was found). Whoever found the ring would be the first of the company to get married. Other charms like a coin signified that the person who found it would be wealthy; a button denoted bachelorhood, whereas the spindle signified spinsterhood; a wishbone indicated the finder would receive their hearts desire; the horseshoe for good luck. In the more sophisticated households the charms might have been baked into a cake, which would have then been cut and distributed in a more dignified and less messy manner.50 More divinations are outlined in the next chapter.

While many considered it most sensible to stay indoors and avoid the more supernatural dangers present on this night, inevitably there were some who took advantage of the supernatural nature of the evening for their own purpose of entertaining themselves and making mischief. Guising was a popular feature of the winter festivals – not just Samhainn, but also Christmas and Hogmanay.51

In Ireland, Hallowe’en was sometimes called oídhche na h-aimléise – ‘The night of mischief or con’. Typically it was the young folk who braved the outside, and in order to avoid being recognised by the spirits of the dead, and to confuse them, they would disguise themselves with masks, black their faces, or else assume a different identity – such as men dressing up as women and vice versa. Gangs of the youths would assemble and go round farmsteads, knocking on the doors and levying ‘a sort of blackmail’ in order to aid their celebrations later on. Children would ask for treats such as apples and nuts at each house as well, in exchange for providing some entertainment to the household, a custom which has inevitably evolved into the modern trick or treating.52

Capitalising on the fact that their costumes or masks would make them unrecognisable to other people, pranks were also commonplace by the guisers. Cabbages might be thrown at people’s doors (stolen from nearby plots), chimneys blocked up with turf, doorknobs covered in treacle, or else farming equipment might be picked up and carried away to someone else’s field.53


References

1 Hutton, Stations of the Sun, 1996, p366/380.
2 E.g, Caesar, De Bello Gallico: [6 18] The Gauls all assert their descent from Dis Pater and say that it is the Druidic belief. For this reason they count periods of time not by the number of days but by the number of nights; and in reckoning birthdays and the new moon and new year their unit of reckoning is the night followed by the day.
3 McNeill, The Silver Bough Volume 1, 1957, p15.
4 Black, The Gaelic Otherworld, 2005, p529.
5 Black, The Gaelic Otherworld, 2005, p574.
6 Black, The Gaelic Otherworld, 2005, p10; McNeill, The Silver Bough Volume 3, 1961, p14.
7 Hutton, Stations of the Sun, 1996, p362. Lichen turns red after a frost, which would have probably already started by now so the belief was especially appropriate to the time of year. Evans-Wentz, The Fairy Faith in Celtic Countries, 1911, p92.
8 Danaher, The Year in Ireland, 1972, p207.
9 McNeill, The Silver Bough Volume 1, 1957, p78.
10 Danaher, The Year in Ireland, 1972, p207.
11 Rees and Rees, Celtic Heritage, 1961, p89-90.
12 McNeill, The Silver Bough Volume 3, 1961, p13.
13 Danaher, The Year in Ireland, 1972, p228.
14 Rees and Rees, Celtic Heritage, 1961, p165; Gregor, The Folklore of the North-East of Scotland, 1881, p167-168.
15 McNeill, The Silver Bough Volume 3, 1961, p13.
16 Danaher, The Year in Ireland, 1972, p207; Rees and Rees, Celtic Heritage, 1961, p92; see also Evans-Wentz, The Fairy-Faith in Celtic Countries, p38-39: “On November Eve it is not right to gather or eat blackberries or sloes, nor after that time as long as they last. On November Eve the faeries pass over all such things and make them unfit to eat. If one dares to eat them afterwards one will have serious illness” – quoted from an Irish priest.
17 Evans-Wentz, The Fairy-Faith in Celtic Countries, p43.
18 Danaher, The Year in Ireland, 1972, p200.
19 Evans-Wentz, The Fairy-Faith in Celtic Countries, p44.
20 Carmichael, Carmina Gadelica, 1992, p642-643.
21 Carmichael, Carmina Gadelica, 1992, p642-643.
22 McNeill, The Silver Bough Volume 3, 1961, p11.
23 Black, The Gaelic Otherworld, 2005, p559.
24 McNeill, The Silver Bough Volume 3, 1961, p17.
25 Black, The Gaelic Otherworld, 2005, p134.
26 Ross, Folklore of the Scottish Highlands, p149.
27 McNeill, The Silver Bough Volume 3, 1961, p18.
28 Hutton, Stations of the Sun, 1996, p366.
29 McNeill, The Silver Bough Volume 3, 1961, p18; Gregor, The Folklore of the North-East of Scotland, 1881, p 167.
30 McNeill, The Silver Bough Volume 3, 1961, pp17-18; Hutton, Stations of the Sun, 1996, p366-367.
31 McNeill, The Silver Bough Volume 3, 1961, p19.
32 McNeill, The Silver Bough Volume 3, 1961, p26. See also F. Marian McNeill, Hallowe’en: Its Origin, Rites and Ceremonies in the Scottish Tradition. My husband says that when he was a child it was common for the children in his neighbourhood to try and steal the turnips from farmer’s fields, without getting caught.
33 Danaher, The Year in Ireland, 1972, p207-208.
34 Danaher, The Year in Ireland, 1972, p207-208. See here.
35 From a quote by John Ramsay of Ochtertyre, Hutton, Stations of the Sun, 1996, p366-367.
36 McNeill, The Silver Bough Volume 3, 1957, p…
37 McNeill, The Silver Bough Volume 3, 1961, p34.
38 McNeill, The Silver Bough Volume 3, 1961, p21.
39 McNeill, The Scots Kitchen, 1929, p200.
40 McNeill, The Scots Kitchen, 1929, p202.
41 Translation:
Till buttered sows, with fragrant smoke,
Set all their tongues a wagging;
Then, with a social glass of liquor,
They parted off careering
Full blythe that night.
42 McNeill, The Silver Bough Volume 3, 1961, p23.
43 Danaher, The Year in Ireland, 1972, p204.
44 Sjoestedt, Celtic Gods and Heroes, p40 – cf. the porridge episode in Cath Maige Tuired.
45 Black, The Gaelic Otherworld, 2005, p603-604.
46 Black, The Gaelic Otherworld, 2005, p559;603-604.
47 McNeill, The Silver Bough Volume 3, 1961, p31.
48 McNeill, The Silver Bough Volume 3, 1961, p 32.
49 Ibid; Black, The Gaelic Otherworld, 2005, p560.
50 Black, p560; McNeill, vol 3, p34; McNeill, The Scots Kitchen, 1929, p190.
51 Hutton, Stations of the Sun, 1996, p380.
52 McNeill, The Silver Bough Volume 3, 1961, p24; Danaher, The Year in Ireland, 1972, p211.
53 Rees and Rees, Celtic Heritage, 1961, p90.