All Hallows Eve or Samhain is the celebration of the dying year. It is the third and final of the harvest festivals. This is the time of year when the earth is going dark.
The celebration begins at sunset on October 31 and continues through to sunset on November 1st. It marks the halfway point between the Autumnal Equinox/Mabon and the Winter Solstice/Yule.
Special bonfires were set alight, deemed to have protective and cleansing powers. Ashes from the fires were rubbed onto the face for protection.
Many important events in Irish mythology either happened or began on Samhain. Like Beltane, it is the time when the doors to the Otherworld are open, often this is referred to the veil being thin. The souls of the dead were thought to visit their homes on this night.
Feasts were had where places were sat for dead ancestors to join the celebration. The large feast consisted of beef, pork and lamb. There were also products of the final harvest including root vegetables, fruits and nuts.
Divination rituals were an important part of the celebration. Apples and nuts were often used in these rituals. Apples were peeled and tossed over the shoulder and studied to see if they formed the first letter of your future spouse. Nut were roasted on the hearth and studied to see if they stayed together or if they separated, as the couples fate would be the same. The shape of egg whites dropped in water foretold the number of future children the couples would have.
Dressing in costume way referred to as guising. People would go from door to door often singing in exchange for food .People used their "guises" as a way to hide from spirits. They would also wear their clothing inside out and carry salt and iron if they had to leave their homes after dark. This would keep spirits at bay.