Focal an Lae #245
The Word of the Day in Irish

Word: Samhain (SOW-ihn, OW as in cow) [saun′]

Meaning: Samhain = November


History: Old Irish “Samain” was the name of both the month of November and the first day of that month, which was the first day of the old Celtic year. According to the old calendar what we now call Halloween was New Year’s Eve, a seam in the fabric of time which allowed some brief passage between this world and the otherworld. “Samain” appears to be cognate with “Samon(ios)”, the name of the first month of the year on the Gaulish Coligny Calendar. This would fit with the native etymology that treats the name as a compound of “sam” (summer) + “fuin” (end). See “samhradh”, Focal #151, for the etymology of “sam”.

Scottish Gaelic: Samhain

2008-06-19 CPD