"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.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 of the Celtic nations and the diaspora.Villagers were said to have cast the bones of the slaughtered cattle upon the flames.For instance, the contemporary calendars produced by the Celtic League begin and end at Samhain.It is important to remember that all of the written documents in places like Ireland and Wales date to a time after the arrival of Christianity in the 5th century.The word 'bonfire', or 'bonefire' is a direct translation of the Gaelic .With the bonfire ablaze, the villagers extinguished all other fires.
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.
The night of Samhain, in Irish, , is one of the principal festivals of the Celtic calendar, and falls on the 31st of October. In modern Ireland and Scotland, the name by which Halloween is known in the Gaelic language is still .
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.
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.