The Date of Samhain
When I was closer to Wiccan practice, many years ago, the group I was a part of had a prolonged debate about when to hold the festivals. It seemed to us that the traditional dates were too early, possibly because the calendar was out of synch with the seasons as they were when the dates were set. We decided, therefore, to move the dates on a bit and to use the Moon as a guide to when to hold our festivals. Midsummer and Midwinter had to be held at the actual dates of the solstices. But we came up with the following for the four quarters of the year:
Imbolc Just after the New Moon in February
Beltane Just after the First Quarter in May
Harvest Full Moon in late August/early September
Samhain After the Last Quarter in November.
This actually always seemed to work in terms of being in tune with the seasons. So Halloween could be left to the 'trick-or-treaters' and Samhain this year would still be over a week away. And look - the trees are still carrying their autumn colours. Has Winter begun? For the rite we did in an enclosed field in a fold of the Carmarthenshire hills, we needed it to be done when the last leaves were falling from the the bare trees. That is not yet. So I'll continue to regard Samhain as yet to occur (in spite of concessions to hollowed out pumpkins at Halloween) and I'll wait until the Moon is waning and the trees tell me it is Winter before thinking that Samhain is upon us.