The ancient practice of lighting large bonfires dates back to the festival of Samhain now known as Halloween. It is the celebration of summer's end and the beginning of the dark season or winter. Samhain marks the end of the harvest and the old year. It is also the beginning of the new year and the upcoming harvest season. On the eve of Samhain, young people would go from house to house asking for offerings of food and kindling for the Samhain bonfire fires. The following day, the traditional day of Samhain, November 1st, people would extinguish their hearth fires and gather together to light large fires on sacred hill tops in honor of and to make offerings to the gods.
Is the Samhain festival a celebration of fire?
Samhain, which occurs around halfway between the autumn equinox and the winter solstice, was considered by the ancient Celts to be the most important of the four fire festivals that they celebrated quarterly. It was traditional for families to let the flames in their houses' hearths go out while they worked on gathering the crop at this time of year.
What would Celtic people wear to a bonfire?
During the festival, in addition to lighting Samhain bonfires, Celts wore costumes made of animal heads and skins. These costumes may be rather elaborate. In addition to that, they would have their horoscopes interpreted. After the festivities were done, the fire from the bonfire was used to light the fireplaces in their houses.