I’ve been deep into the researching the Iron Age Celts as the prequel to Exiles of Eire continues to grow beyond my original outline for it (the title and cover will come soon, but it’s Riona’s origin story).
One big part of their culture, one of their most important festivals, is the welcoming of the dark part of the new year, Samhain—which we call Halloween nowadays (also Maya from Exiles of Eire’s birthday).
The way they celebrated seems quite different than what we do with costumes, pumpkins, and candy. It was all about bringing in the harvest and burning a sacred fire throughout the night that everyone would bring to their homes. Thrones would be set up for important military figures and chieftains, but if anyone raised a weapon or started a fight over the three days it was celebrated, the penalty was death. That peaceful tradition comes up in the middle of my favorite myth, The Wooing of Etain, when a conflict breaks out during Samhain and Midir uses that to trick his little brother into fetching his true love for him.
Many modern day people such as Wiccans or Neopagans still celebrate this iteration of the holiday with their own shrines and festivals.