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The Stations of the SunA History of the Ritual Year in Britain$
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Ronald Hutton

Print publication date: 1996

Print ISBN-13: 9780198205708

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: October 2011

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780198205708.001.0001

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(p.360) 35 Samhain
The Stations of the Sun

Ronald Hutton

Oxford University Press

This book re-examines all the evidence for the development of the feast and of its associated days of All Saints and All Souls, and shows how intractable and ambivalent much of it seems to be. It begins with Samhain. Samhain was the major festival that marked the opening of winter in early medieval Ireland. In Tochmarc Emire it is the first of the four quarter days mentioned by the heroine Emer. The cereal harvest would likewise have long been completed and the time of warfare and of trading was at an end. It was therefore an ideal moment for the convention of the year's most important tribal assemblies, and indeed ‘the feis of Samhain’, at which local kings gathered their people, is a favourite setting for early Irish tales.

Keywords:   feast, Samhain, festival, winter, Ireland, Tochmarc Emire, Emer, harvest, warfare

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