Underworld. Samhain actually refers to the daylight portion of the holiday, on November 1st.Around the eighth century or so, the Catholic Church decided to use November 1st as AllSaints Day. This was actually a pretty smart move on their part – the local pagans werealready celebrating that day anyway, so it made sense to use it as a church holiday. AllSaints’ became the festival to honor any saint who didn’t already have a day of his or her own. The mass which was said on All Saints’ was called Allhallowmas – the mass of allthose who are hallowed. The night before naturally became known as All Hallows Eve,and eventually morphed into what we call Halloween.The pagan Samhain is not, and never was, associated with evil or negativity. It hasalways been a time to reaffirm our belief in the oneness of all spirits, and in our firmresolution that physical death is not the final act of existence. Though death is very mucha part of Samhain's symbolism, this Sabbat also celebrates the triumph of life over death.While it is true that Samhain is no more evil than any other holiday, it is also a fact thatevil does exist, and pagans have always been aware of this. Our ancestors sought to protect themselves on this night by carving faces in vegetables to place near windows or at the perimeters of their circle. These were the forerunners of our present day jack-o-lanterns. These carved pumpkin faces are probably relics of the even earlier custom of placing candles in windows to guide the earth-walking spirits along their way. Today itis still a custom in Ireland to place candles in the windows on Samhain night and to leave plates of food for the visiting spirits.There are two possible sources for the origin of the Samhain Sabbat's name. One isfrom the Aryan God of Death, Samana, and the other is from the Irish Gaelic word"samhraidhreadh", which literally means "the summer's end". Samhain marked the endof summer and the beginning of winter for the Celts, with the day after Samhain beingthe official date of the Celtic New Year. The reason the Celts chose this point in time astheir new year rather than Yule, when the rest of Western pagans celebrate it, was because the sun is at its lowest point on the horizon as measured by the ancient standingstones of Britain and Ireland.This is also a time for harmless pranks, lavish feasting, circle games, and merrymakingwhich can be teasingly blamed on nearby spirits ;) (ala Loki, Abbot, Lord of Misruleetc.)Samhain bonfires, called balefires in paganism, were once lighted on every hilltop inBritain and Ireland as soon as the sun set on October 30. The word "balefire" comesfrom the word "boon", which means "extra". The fires serve the purpose of containingthe energy of the dead god, lighting the dark night, warding off evil, ushering in the lightof the New Year, purifying the ritual space or home, and being the focus of ritual. Inmany parts of the British Isles these balefires are still lighted on Samhain to honor the oldways.