The Celtic New Year Began With Winter The end of October was the end of summer and the end of the year for the Celts. The last of the harvest was brought in, and the cattle were rounded up from their summer pasture and brought into their winter shelters. The souls of the dead were also thought to be on the move as the days grew colder. It was only natural that people who had just stocked up for winter felt they should offer something to the shivering ghosts.
Halloween was thought to be the time when communication with dead ancestors was most likely because the barrier between our world and the spiritual world was supposed to be weak and easy to cross. It was a night of fear instead of fun. People thought the devil was at his most powerful and that witches might be seen riding through the air on brooms or galloping along the roads on the backs of their black cats which they had transformed into black horses.
The Fire Feast of the Sun As winter approached and the sun grew weak, Druid priests performed magic ceremonies to restore the sun's power with the heat and light of fire. All fires in homes were put out and then relit from the sacred alter fires of the priests. Bonfires burned at night to strengthen the sun. Blazing torches were paraded through the streets.
In some parts of Britain, bonfires are still lit on high hills, surrounded by a circular trench that symbolizes the round sun. The high school homecoming celebration bonfire may be a last vestige of Celtic sun worship surviving in the US.
Halloween was also the best night of the year for fortune telling. It was a particularly good night for discovering who you might marry. Some fortunetelling rituals have survived today as party games.
An example: Lead a blindfolded person to a table with three bowls. Have them choose one bowl by dipping their fingers into it. Mix up the bowls and have them try again for a total of three times.
--a bowl with dirty water means you'll marry someone who has been married before. --an empty bowl means you'll be single. --a bowl with clean water means you'll marry a young and good looking person.