Samhain,(SOW-in),Celtic for "End of Summer", is the celebration of the third and final Harvest. Celebrated on October 31st or November 1st, Samhain is also called the Witches' New Year. This was the time that livestock were slaughtered and preserved for the ensuing winter months. Any crops still in the field on Samhain were considered taboo, and left as offerings to insure healthy and plentiful livestock in the New Year.
According to Gaelic lore, the Tuatha de Danaan are on the move on this night, and it is customary to leave an offering of milk and barley on the doorstep for the faerie folk that they may refresh themselves on their journey and in so doing bless the home with good fortune for the coming year.
This is a magickal time when the Veil between the worlds is thinnest and communication between the mundane world and the afterlife is easiest. Because of this we decorate our altars in remembrance of our ancestors and others who have passed on and whose legacies have most influenced our own lives.
The God in his Sage aspect passes through the veil at this time and enters the realm of the dead, leaving the Goddess to mourn in her Crone aspect until Yule, when the God shall be born again and rejoin her as the Bright Son of the new year, demonstrating one of the Great Mysteries: All Endings are New Beginnings.