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PostPosted: Sun 07 Oct 2012 8:32 pm 
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To pre-empt the 'how do you say Happy Halloween in Irish Gaelic?', I thought it might be interesting to ask people to contribute language relevant to Hallowe'en and also to share any games and traditions associated with it.

Oíche shamhna shona duit = happy hallowe'en to one person
Oíche shamhna shona daoibh = happy hallowe'en to more than one person
cailleach = witch
úll = apple
púca = ghost (We used to 'go on the púcaís' as kids - this is more commonly now called 'trick or treating' ie. begging at neighbours' doors!)

We might have a decent amount of vocab and info for visitors to ILF by the time it comes around.

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 Post subject: Re: Oíche shamhna!
PostPosted: Sun 07 Oct 2012 8:53 pm 
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Here's some interesting background info I found:

The Irish calendar did not not traditionally observe the typical astronomical seasons (beginning, in the Northern Hemisphere, on the equinoxes and solstices), or the meteorological seasons (beginning on March 1st, June 1st, September 1st, and December 1st), but rather centers the seasons around the solstices and equinoxes (so that, for instance, Celtic midsummer falls on the summer solstice), beginning the seasons at the approximate halfway points between solstice and equinox. The four principal festivals of the Irish calendar, celebrated among Gaelic peoples and some other Celtic cultures are (in their order in the Celtic calendar):

Samhain (November 1st)
Imbolc (February 1st)
Beltaine (May 1st)
Lúnasa (August 1st) [the English Lammas Day]

These festivals are based on what are known as "cross quarter" solar alignments, which occur when the celestial latitude of the Sun is at exactly 23.44 sin 45, or about 16.57 degrees north or south of the Equator. Astronomical Imbolc would thus occur when the Sun is 16.6 degrees in the opposite hemisphere and moving toward the Equator.

The Celtic calendar appears to have divided the year into two halves: the 'dark' half, in Gaul beginning with the month Samonios (the October/November lunation), and the 'light' half, beginning with the month Giamonios (the April/May lunation). The entire year may have been considered as beginning with the 'dark' half, so that the beginning of Samonios may be considered the Celtic New Year's day. The celebration of New Year itself may have taken place during the 'three nights of Samonios' (Gaulish trinux[tion] samo[nii]), the beginning of the lunar cycle which fell nearest to the midpoint between the autumnal equinox and the winter solstice. The lunations marking the middle of each half-year may also have been marked by specific festivals. The Coligny calendar marks the mid-summer moon (Lughnasadh), but omits the mid-winter one (Imbolc). It appears that the calendar was designed to align the lunations with the agricultural cycle of vegetation, and that the exact astronomical position of the Sun at that time was considered less important.

And, more specifically about Samhain itself:

Samhain [Scots Gaelic samhainn; Old Irish samain ("summer's end", from sam "summer" and fuin "end")] is a festival on the end of the harvest season in Gaelic and Brythonic cultures, with aspects of a festival of the dead. Many scholars believe that it was the beginning of the Celtic year. The term derives from the name of a month in the ancient Celtic calendar, in particular the first three nights of this month, with the festival marking the end of the summer season and the end of the harvest. The Gaelic festival became associated with the Catholic All Souls' Day, and appears to have influenced the secular customs now connected with Halloween. Samhain and an t-Samhain are also the Irish and Scottish Gaelic names of November, respectively.

Etymology

The Irish word Samhain is derived from the Old Irish samain, samuin, or samfuin, all referring to November 1st (latha na samna: 'samhain day'), and the festival and royal assembly held on that date in medieval Ireland (oenaig na samna: 'samhain assembly'). Its meaning is usually glossed as 'summer's end', and the frequent spelling with f suggests analysis by popular etymology as sam ('summer') and fuin ('sunset', 'end'). The Old Irish sam ('summer') is from Proto-Indo-European language (PIE) *semo-; cognates are Welsh haf, Breton hañv, English summer and Old Norse language sumar, all meaning 'summer', and the Sanskrit sáma ("season"). Some have suggested a different etymology, from Proto-Celtic *samani ('assembly'), cognate to Sanskrit sámana, and the Gothic samana, and that the words containing *semo- ('summer') are unrelated to samain, claiming also that the Celtic 'end of summer' was in July, not November, as evidenced by Welsh gorffennaf ('July'). The root would in that case be (or be cognate with) an Insular Celtic word for 'assembly', *samani or *samoni, and the word for 'summer', saminos would be derived from *samo-: 'summer, alongside samrad, *samo-roto-. The Irish samain would be etymologically unrelated to 'summer', and derive from 'assembly'. However, the name of the month is of Proto-Celtic age (cf. Gaulish SAMON[IOS] from the Coligny calendar), and the association with 'summer' by popular etymology may therefore in principle date to even pre-Insular Celtic times.

Confusingly, Gaulish Samonios (October/November lunation) corresponds to GIAMONIOS, the seventh month (the April/May lunation) and the beginning of the summer season. Giamonios, the beginning of the summer season, is clearly related to the word for winter, Proto-Indo-European *g'hei-men- (Latin hiems, Slavic zima, Greek kheimon, Hittite gimmanza), cf. Old Irish gem-adaig ('winter's night'). It appears, therefore, that in Proto-Celtic the first month of the summer season was named 'wintry', and the first month of the winter half-year 'summery', possibly by ellipsis, '[month at the end] of summer/winter', so that samfuin would be a restitution of the original meaning. This interpretation would either invalidate the 'assembly' explanation given above, or push back the time of the re-interpretation by popular etymology to very early times indeed.

Observance

In medieval Ireland, Samhain became the principal festival, celebrated with a great assembly at the royal court in Tara, lasting for three days. After being ritually started on the Hill of Tlachtga, a bonfire was set alight on the Hill of Tara, which served as a beacon, signaling to people gathered atop hills all across Ireland to light their ritual bonfires. The custom has survived to some extent, and recent years have seen a resurgence in participation in the festival. The Samhain celebrations have survived in several guises as a festival dedicated to the harvest and the dead. In Ireland and Scotland, the Féile na Marbh ('festival of the dead') took place on Samhain. It was also sometimes called Feile Moingfinne (‘festival of the Snow Goddess’)

The night of Samhain, in Irish, Oíche Shamhna and Scots Gaelic, Oidhche Shamhna, is one of the principal festivals of the Celtic calendar, and falls on the 31st of October. It represents the final harvest. In modern Ireland and Scotland, the name by which Halloween is known in the Gaelic language is still Oíche Shamhna. It is still the custom in some areas to set a place for the dead at the Samhain feast, and to tell tales of the ancestors on that night According to Celtic lore, Samhain is a time when the boundaries between the world of the living and the world of the dead become thinner, allowing spirits and other supernatural entities to pass between the worlds to socialize with humans. It is the time of the year when ancestors and other departed souls are especially honored. Traditionally, Samhain was also the time to take stock of the herds and grain supplies, and decide which animals would need to be slaughtered in order for the people and livestock to survive the winter. This custom is still observed by many who farm and raise livestock, because it is when meat will keep since the freeze has come and also since summer grass is gone and free foraging is no longer possible.

Bonfires played a large part in the festivities celebrated down through the last several centuries, and up through the present day in some rural areas. Villagers were said to have cast the bones of the slaughtered cattle upon the flames. In the pre-Christian Gaelic world, cattle were the primary unit of currency and the center of agricultural and pastoral life. Samhain was the traditional time for slaughter, for preparing stores of meat and grain to last through the coming winter. The word 'bonfire', or 'bonefire' is a direct translation of the Gaelic tine cnámh. With the bonfire ablaze, the villagers extinguished all other fires. Each family then solemnly lit its hearth from the common flame, thus bonding the families of the village together. Often two bonfires would be built side by side, and the people would walk between the fires as a ritual of purification. Sometimes the cattle and other livestock would be driven between the fires, as well.

Divination is a common folkloric practice that has also survived in rural areas. The most common uses were to determine the identity of one's future spouse, the location of one's future home, and how many children a person might have. Seasonal foods such as apples and nuts were often employed in these rituals. Apples were peeled, the peel tossed over the shoulder, and its shape examined to see if it formed the first letter of the future spouse's name. Nuts were roasted on the hearth and their movements interpreted - if the nuts stayed together, so would the couple. Egg whites were dropped in a glass of water, and the shapes foretold the number of future children. Children would also chase crows and divine some of these things from how many birds appeared or the direction the birds flew.

History

The Ulster Cycle is peppered with references to Samhain. Many of the adventures and campaigns undertaken by the characters therein begin at the Oíche Samhna feast. One such tale is Echtra Nerai ('The Adventure of Nera') concerning one Nera from Connacht who undergoes a test of bravery put forth by King Ailill. The prize is the king's own gold-hilted sword. The terms hold that a man must leave the warmth and safety of the hall and pass through the night to a gallows where two prisoners had been hanged the day before, tie a twig around one man's ankle, and return. Others had been thwarted by the demons and spirits that harassed them as they attempted the task, quickly coming back to Ailill's hall in shame. Nera goes on to complete the task and eventually infiltrates the sídhe where he remains trapped until next Samhain. Taking etymology into consideration, it is interesting to note that the word for summer expressed in the Echtra Nerai is samraid. The other cycles feature Samhain as well. The Cath Maige Tuireadh (Battle of Mag Tuired) takes place on Samhain. The deities Morrígan and Dagda meet and have sex before the battle against the Fomorians; in this way the Morrígan acts as a sovereignty figure and gives the victory to the Dagda's people, the Tuatha Dé Danaan.

The tale The Boyhood Deeds of Fionn includes an important scene at Samhain. The young Fionn Mac Cumhail visits Tara where Aillen the Burner, one of the Tuatha Dé Danaan puts everyone to sleep at Samhain and burns the place. Through his ingenuity Fionn is able to stay awake and slays Aillen, and is given his rightful place as head of the Fianna.

Brittany

In parts of western Brittany, Samhain is still heralded by the baking of kornigou, cakes baked in the shape of antlers to commemorate the god of winter shedding his 'cuckold' horns as he returns to his kingdom in the Otherworld. The Romans are said to have identified Samhain with their own feast of the dead, the Lemuria. This, however, was observed in the days leading up to May 13.

Wales

The Welsh equivalent of this holiday is called Nos Galan Gaeaf. As with Samhain, this marks the beginning of the dark half of the year and it officially begins at sunset on October 31st.

Isle of Man

The Manx celebrate Hop-tu-Naa, which is a celebration of the original New Year's Eve. The term is Manx Gaelic in origin, deriving from Shogh ta’n Oie, meaning "this is the night". Traditionally, children dress as scary beings, carry turnips rather than pumpkins and sing an Anglicized version of Jinnie the Witch. They go from house to house asking for sweets or money.

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 Post subject: Re: Oíche shamhna!
PostPosted: Sun 07 Oct 2012 9:06 pm 
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My úlla agus púcaí seems a little infantile now after all that!!

I forgot to mention bonfires! Caoimhín covered that well in his post. I always thought it was interesting that bonfire in Irish is 'tine chnámh' ie. bone fire as originally bones were burned in it. The Irish has remained truer in meaning than the English. 8-)

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 Post subject: Re: Oíche shamhna!
PostPosted: Sun 07 Oct 2012 9:48 pm 
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I was never allowed out trick or treating. (ag goil amach le mascannaí as we'd say)
(masked/disguises). I guess it's too late to put it on my bucket list now. :S
i wasn't allowed out with the dreoilín or brídóg either.

It was typical of the early Church to put feast days on or near pagan festivals.
So Halloween is a mixture of the old and the new All Souls Day.
It was the Irish that brought Halloween to America first.

When I was young it was common for children to go house to house in daylight, and the adults would come at nighttime (especially applicable for St. Stephen's Day's dreoilín) with dancing/music etc.

A typical game was dunking your face in a basin of water for apples. Although I don't remember even doing that myself.

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 Post subject: Re: Oíche shamhna!
PostPosted: Mon 08 Oct 2012 2:35 pm 
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The only thing I remember is that Jack O'Lanterns were originally carved from turnips. Pumpkins are a new world thing.

Caoimhín, I'm going to be doing a very short article on Oíche Shamhna for Bitesize...would you mind if I quoted some of what you have there? I'd give you credit, and link back to this thread as well.

Redwolf


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 Post subject: Re: Oíche shamhna!
PostPosted: Mon 08 Oct 2012 6:25 pm 
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:clap: sár obair a Chaoimhín!

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 Post subject: Re: Oíche shamhna!
PostPosted: Mon 08 Oct 2012 6:29 pm 
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An Cionnfhaolach wrote:
:clap: sár obair a Chaoimhín!

:yes: :clap:

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My "specialty" is Connemara Irish, particularly Cois Fhairrge dialect.
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Gaeilge Chonnacht (GC), go háraid Gaeilge Chois Fhairrge (GCF), agus Gaeilge an Chaighdeáin Oifigiúil (CO).


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 Post subject: Re: Oíche shamhna!
PostPosted: Tue 09 Oct 2012 3:38 am 
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Quote:
Caoimhín, I'm going to be doing a very short article on Oíche Shamhna for Bitesize...would you mind if I quoted some of what you have there? I'd give you credit, and link back to this thread as well.


Feel free to use whatever of it you like, but there's no need to credit me, since I didn't really write it. I've collected the info over the last few years from various places on the internet. I may have worked some of it into a logical sequence while combining material from different sources, and may have adjusted the wording a bit in order to do that logically. I probably also fixed some of the grammar and/or phrasing in parts of it, since a surprising amount of Celtic-oriented material on the net is written in English by German and French Celtic experts, and their English sometimes needs to be cleaned up (I'm sure my German and French phrasing sometimes needs fixing as well).

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 Post subject: Re: Oíche shamhna!
PostPosted: Fri 12 Oct 2012 6:16 pm 
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Bumping this, because I'd love to do a second article on Halloween terms in Irish: For instance:

Jack-o-lantern

Bobbing for apples (if there are other traditional games, I'd love to know about those as well)

Any regional terms for what eventually morphed into treating (we've got a couple here, but are there more?)

I'll also have a look over at the other place to see if we had anything there we can bring over.

Redwolf


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 Post subject: Re: Oíche shamhna!
PostPosted: Fri 12 Oct 2012 8:20 pm 
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I remember the aunties discussing the game Snap Apple, but whether it was bobbing for apples or another one where apples were suspended on a string and with hands behind your back, you had to bite into the apple which had a coin put into it. This reqired strong teeth and resulted in bloody noses. My neighbbors changed doughnuts for the apples.


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