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The custom has survived to some extent, and recent years have seen a resurgence in participation in the festival.
Samhain was identified in Celtic literature as the beginning of the Celtic year and its description as "Celtic New Year" was popularised in 18th century literature From this usage in the Romanticist Celtic Revival, Samhain is still popularly regarded as the "Celtic New Year" in the contemporary Celtic cultures, both in the Six Celtic Nations and the diaspora.
The word 'bonfire', or 'bonefire' is a direct translation of the Gaelic .
With the bonfire ablaze, the villagers extinguished all other fires.
Sometimes the cattle and other livestock would be driven between the fires, as well.
Divination is a common folkloric practice that has also survived in rural areas.
In the pre-Christian Gaelic world, cattle were the primary unit of currency and the center of agricultural and pastoral life.
This interpretation would either invalidate the 'assembly' explanation given above, or push back the time of the re-interpretation by popular etymology to very early times indeed.
In medieval Ireland, Samhain became the principal festival, celebrated with a great assembly at the royal court in Tara, lasting for three days.
After being ritually started on the Hill of Tlachtga, a bonfire was set alight on the Hill of Tara, which served as a beacon, signaling to people gathered atop hills all across Ireland to light their ritual bonfires.
solstice and equinox, so the mid-summer festival would fall considerably later than summer solstice, around (Lughnasadh).
It appears that the calendar was designed to align the lunations with the agricultural cycle of vegetation, and that the exact astronomical position of the Sun at that time was considered less important.