Irish English dictionary published by the Irish Texts Society
defines the word as follows:
All Hallowtide, the feast of the dead in Pagan and Christian
times, signalizing the close of harvest and the initiation of
the winter season, lasting till May, during which troops (esp.
the Fiann) were quartered. Faeries were imagined as particularly
active at this season. From it the half year is reckoned. also
called Feile Moingfinne (Snow Goddess).(1) The Scottish Gaelis
Dictionary defines it as "Hallowtide. The Feast of All Soula.
Sam + Fuin = end of summer."(2) Contrary to the information
published by many organizations, there is no archaeological or
literary evidence to indicate that Samhain was a deity. The
Celtic Gods of the dead were Gwynn ap Nudd for the British, and
Arawn for the Welsh. The Irish did not have a "lord of death" as
The information on Samhain is from
Rowan Moonstone's The Origins of Halloween.
(1) Rev. Patrick Dineen, "An Irish English
Dictionary" (Dublin, 1927), p. 937
(2) Malcolm MacLennan, "A Pronouncing and
Etymological Dictionary of the Gaelic Language" (Aberdeen,
1979), p. 279