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Nos Galan-Gaeaf
(Night of the Winter Calends)

 

 

The Origins of Halloween were brought to America by the Celtic People. The ancient Celts called it the festival of Samhain or “Samhuinn” (pronounced sow'in) and observed it to celebrate the onset of winter and the beginning of the Celtic New Year. "Samhain" means "end of summer." In Ireland, the festival was known as Samhein, or LA SAMON ,(the Feast of the Sun) and today as Lá Samhna. In Scotland, the celebration was known as HALLOWE'EN, which evolved to become the American word, Halloween. Samhain was a solar festival marked by sacred fire rituals.

In Wales, NOS GALEN GAEAF, (All Hallows Eve or Halloween) preceded the beginning of the new year and the night when The veil between the worlds of the living and the dead was believed to be at its thinnest point and the dead were free to roam the earth. To the Welsh, this was indeed a dangerous time of year. Ghosts (YSBRYD) and goblins (COBLYN) were said to appear at midnight on the entrances to footpaths. The two of the most famous spirits are the bone crunching HWCH DDU GWTA (tail-less black sow) and
LADI WEN (lady in white) referred to in many a ghostly tale.

LADY IN WHITE

Huge bonfires were lit on the hillsides. The watchers would dance around and leap through the flames
for good luck and they were safe only as long as the fires burned. Eventually, the flames would die down
and everyone would run for home to escape the clutches of the
HWCH DDU GWTA

 

THE TAIL-LESS BLACK SOW

Adref, adref am y cyntaf, Hwch Ddu Gwta a gipio'r olaf!
(A-home, a-home as the first, Tail-less Black Sow snatch the last!)

 

In Wales, groups of youths, known as the GWRACHOD (hags or witches), would wander from house to house after dark, chanting verses. After chanting their strange rhymes, they would then be given gifts of nuts and apples and an occasional ale that were used to divine one's future. (This was the predecessor of "TRICK OR TREAT"). The "hauntings" of these groups were believed to bring good tidings for the forthcoming year and to expel bad spirits from the home.

 

This page was created to honour my Welsh Ancestors.
If you would like a detailed account
of the history of HALLOWEEN go to
ISSAC BONEWITS HOMEPAGE
(just click on the CRAWLING EYEBALL)

(Thank you very much. Goodbye)

 

 


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