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

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

--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.