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High Holy Days Heck!

By P. Sufenas Virius Lupus

Judaism’s high holy days happened earlier this month, the “days of awe” between Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur. It’s coming to the last week of October now, and like many modern Pagans, late October is a busy time for me ritually. However, the most convenient weekend closest to October 31st is not the only day of concern for me. Two of the traditions I practice have some of their most important holy days of the year during this time, and in both cases, the days involved are plural.

The one which is obvious, and which is shared by many types of modern Pagan, both reconstructionist and non-, is Samain (I use the Old Irish spelling), which is—strictly speaking—the evening going into the first of November (a month which in the modern Irish calendar is called Samhain), thus October 31st. (Marking a day as beginning with the preceding sunset is a custom also shared with Judaism, incidentally!) However, in some medieval sources, like Serglige Con Culainn, it is not simply a single-day feast or observance; the “thirds of Samain” are mentioned as being the three days before Samain, the three days after Samain, and Samain itself, which makes it a week-long festival from the 28th of October through the 3rd of November.

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