Got an idea for a holiday? Send it to us

Submit Now

Calan Gaeaf – November 1, 2022

Calan Gaeaf is celebrated on November 1 each year in Wales, U.K., to welcome winter. However, this is not a regular old celebration of the cold months. Calan Gaeaf is sometimes also known as the ‘Mother of Halloween!’ And indeed, the celebrations tend to get a little spooky. With days becoming short and nights becoming long and chilly, Calan Gaeaf also celebrates the macabre and creatures of the other world. The holiday is especially loved by children who dress up in costumes and carve pumpkins. Calan Gaeaf is a rather unusual celebration that emphasizes ghouls, ghosts, death, and the afterlife.

History of Calan Gaeaf

Calan Gaeaf is often believed to be the predecessor of the U.S. festival of Halloween. Celebrated at the very beginning of winter, Calan Gaeaf was a way of getting people ready to prepare for short and cheerless days ahead. The longer nights and cool air turned out to be the perfect setting for a spooky festival. The night before Calan Gaeaf is known as ‘Nos Galan Gaeaf,’ where spirits are abroad and yet to visit people. On the night before, people stay away from churchyards, stiles, and crossroads to avoid running into spirits.

Like festivals that have to do with spirits and ghosts, Calan Gaeaf is also deeply rooted in superstitions. In the early practice of the festival, villagers would dance around a bonfire and everyone would write their names and carve a mark on rocks. These rocks were later placed in the fire. When the fire died out, the villagers would all run home, thinking that if they stayed, ‘Yr Hwch Ddu Gwta’’ (a spirit in the shape of a tailless black sow with a headless woman) or ‘Y Ladi Wen’ (a headless ghost apparition) would chase them and devour their souls.

The next morning, the villagers would return to see if the rocks still contained their mark. If the mark was wiped clean, it was considered good luck. If, however, a stone was missing, the person to whom it originally belonged was believed to be cursed with bad luck that would result in them dying within a year!

Calan Gaeaf timeline

5th Century B.C.
Ghosts in Literature

The Greeks write about ghosts as scary creatures.

1st Century A.D.
Descriptions of a Haunting

Plutarch describes a bathhouse haunted by the spirit of a murdered man.

1840s
The Emergence of Spiritualism

Many Americans believe spirits are part of religion.

1845
The Progressive Physician

John Ferriar believes spirits can be sighted during hallucinations.

Calan Gaeaf FAQs

What do people do on Calan Gaeaf?

People party, tell each other spooky stories, dress up in costumes, and light bonfires to celebrate Calan Gaeaf.

What kind of festival is Calan Gaeaf?

Calan Gaeaf is an old Celtic festival that announces the arrival of winter in Wales, U.K.

Did Halloween originate in Wales?

Halloween, which dates back to 1745, is thought to be linked to the Celtic festival ‘Samhain’, and the Brittonic Celtic festival, Calan Gaeaf, in Wales.

Calan Gaeaf Activities

  1. Host your own Calan Gaeaf

    Host your own Calan Gaeaf by inviting friends and family over. Dress up in costumes, light a bonfire, and share spooky stories. This is a great way to celebrate the festival.

  2. Watch your favorite horror movies

    Another way to celebrate Calan Gaeaf is by spending the night watching the goriest horror movies. A good scare is the best way to celebrate the day and what better way to do it than with horror movies!

  3. Visit a haunted house

    Celebrate Calan Gaeaf in style by visiting a haunted house! Nothing can top true ghost stories and rumors of haunted houses. Visit one with your friends to see if the spirits actually speak to you!

5 Scary Facts About Horror Movies To Watch On Calan Gaeaf

  1. “Scream”

    Drew Barrymore was initially offered the lead role, Sidney, but turned it down as she figured the audience will be more intrigued if she died earlier in the movie.

  2. “Friday the 13th”

    An actual scout camp in New Jersey was used in the making of this film — Camp No-Be-Bo-Sco.

  3. “Paranormal Activity”

    The director was so terrified of the movie that he had to pause screening a copy and watch it the next day — when it was bright!

  4. “A Nightmare on Elm Street”

    The interior and exterior shots of the main house in this movie were from a few different locations.

  5. “Saw”

    Because this movie was low budget, the producers needed to be extra creative to attract great profits — they even used real pig guts to portray a person’s intestines (freaky)!

Why We Love Calan Gaeaf

  1. It welcomes winter

    Calan Gaeaf is a celebration that welcomes winter. With winter comes Christmas and other holidays, so in a way, Calan Gaeaf also signals the beginning of the joyful festive season.

  2. It's an age-old tradition

    Calan Gaeaf is an age-old tradition celebrating the changing of the seasons. Celebrations such as this connect us to our ancestors and the rich history of the land. When we celebrate Calan Gaeaf, we also celebrate our culture.

  3. Time to party

    With dancing, costumes, and bonfires, Calan Gaeaf is a great time to party. Unwind after the summers and get ready for the festivities of winter with Calan Gaeaf!

Calan Gaeaf dates

YearDateDay
2022November 1Tuesday
2023November 1Wednesday
2024November 1Friday
2025November 1Saturday
2026November 1Sunday
National Fig Week
National Medical Cannabis Week
Pushkar Camel Fair Pushkar
World Communication Week
All Saints Day (Spain)
All Saints' Day
Anniversary of the Revolution
Antigua Independence Day
Calan Gaeaf
Coronation Day of His Majesty the King
D. Hamilton Jackson Day
Extra Mile Day
Haryana Day
International Pet Groomer Appreciation Day
Kannada Rajyothsava
Karnataka Rajyotsava Day
Kut
Marlborough Anniversary Day
Melbourne Cup Day
National Author's Day
National Biologic Coordinators Day
National Brush Day
​National Calzone Day
National Cinnamon Day
National Cook For Your Pets Day
National Deep Fried Clams Day
National Family Literacy Day
National Jayden Day
National Men Make Dinner Day
National Mia Day
National Vinegar Day
Pâté Day
Prime Meridian Day
Puducherry Liberation Day
Scented Candle Day
World Vegan Day
Adopt a Turkey Month
Aviation History Month
Banana Pudding Lovers Month
Bladder Health Month
Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease Awareness Month
Diabetic Eye Disease Month
Family Stories Month
Filipino Values Month
Gluten-Free Diet Awareness Month
Library and Information Services Month
Lung Cancer Awareness Month
Manatee Awareness Month
Military Family Month
National Adopt A Senior Pet Month
National Adoption Month
National Alzheimer's Disease Awareness Month
National Children’s Month
National Consciousness Month for Punctuality and Civility
National Diabetes Month
National Entrepreneurship Month
National Epilepsy Awareness Month
National Family Caregivers Month
National Family Literacy Month
National Fun with Fondue Month
National Gratitude Month
National Healthy Skin Month
National Home Care and Hospice Month
National Impotency Month
National Inspirational Role Models Month
National Life Writing Month
National Long-term Care Awareness Month
National Marrow Awareness Month
National Native American Heritage Month
National Novel Writing Month
National Peanut Butter Lovers Month
National Pepper Month
National Pet Cancer Awareness Month
National Pet Cancer Awareness Month
National Pinhole Gum Rejuvenation Month
National Pomegranate Month
National Prevent a Litter Month
National Raisin Bread Month
National Repair Done Right Month
National Rice Awareness Month
National Roasting Month
National Scholarship Month
No-Shave November
Pet Diabetes Month
Philippine Book Development Month
PTA Healthy Lifestyles Month
Stomach Cancer Awareness Month
Traditional and Alternative Health Month
Worldwide Bereaved Siblings Month

Want to sponsor this holiday?

Holidays Straight to Your Inbox

Every day is a holiday!
Receive fresh holidays directly to your inbox.