Halloween has been known to the European Islands of Ireland, Scotland, England and Wales over 2,000 years now. It is a Festival that the Celts held each October 31st at Harvest time period. The Celts believed the "Souls of the Dead Visited Earth on that Day".
On the night before November 1st, the Celts believed that the the realm between the living and the dead opened temporary. This happened so the passing of the souls from Earth and the returning of the souls to Earth could happen.
The Celts believed that their Priests (The Druids) could make contact with the dead and receive predictions for the coming year. They called it "Samhain" (Celtic New Year). Samhain tied in also with their harvest and was also the ending of summer and marking the beginning of Winter.
The Celts would wear costumes made of animal heads and skins. They would dance, chant and light big fires to scare away the evil spirits so, only the good spirits would visit when, passing through the realms of the living and the dead.
In the 8th Century, the Catholic Church named November 1st "Allhallowmas" now known as "All Saint's Day". Its was called "Allhallowmas" which meant "Mass of the Hallowed (Saintly People)", which commonly was known as "All Hallow's Day". As a result, the night before "Allhallowmas" became known as "Allhallowe'en" which meant "Evening before All Hallow's Day" It was later shortened to as we all call it every October 31st "Halloween".
So, as the time in passing we have commerical brought Halloween with the mixing of the Pagen Celt's Belief and the Allhallowe'en of All Saints Day. Some of the customs of the combination of Samhain and Halloween is as follows:
The wearing of scary costumes was in the belief that it would scare away the unrest spirits who were roaming the earth on Allhallowe'en. Saving them from been haunted by the unrest spirits.
The lighting of Bonfires was what the Druids (Celts Priests) would have the Celts do in order to keep the evil spirits away from their dwelling place. The Druids believed that making contact with their dead was a way of getting predictions for the next year and what was in store for them and its harvest.
While the Druids were contacting the dead on the eve of November 1st the Bonfires would be lite on the eve of October 31st. The Bonfires were kept burning throughout the night till, the next morning light. This was done as a ritual each year on October 31st so, no unrest spirits lingered to haunt or posess them in spirit on their lands and placements.
On November 1st on "All Souls Day" the Christians would walk from house to house begging for "Soul Cakes". These cakes were made out of Bread and Currants. The Beggers receivied soul cakes from the houses in return the beggers would say prayers for the dead of the homes the begged soul cakes from. This the beggars would insure with the token of them recieving "Soul Cakes" from the houses they went to.
In the 18th Century it was strongly believed in the Christian faith that, there, was a long space of time of been kept in limbo for the dead and their soul contents before, starting their passage to Heaven. The more prayers said for their dead would in thier belief speed up their passing souls passage of safe journey to Heaven. Hence, the baking of "Soul Cakes", on October 31st and November 1st of each year.
Nowadays, it is called "Barm Brack" and in America they make "Pumpkin Pie". These days the festive way of the knocking on peoples doors, is with the children, dressing up and going door to door "Trick or Treating". You give them treats at the door or they come back later and will play a trick on you.
The custom of the "Jack -O- Lantern starts outs with the story of "Stingy Jack" a greedy Irish drunk. Jack was very well known for his drunkardness and trickery to all the people. With Jack been so much a trickster it is told in folklore that he even tricked Devil into climbing a tree. Jack, when he tricked the Devil into climbing a tree then carved a cross into the tree's trunk. This trapping the Devil up in the tree.
Jack, then made a deal with the Devil that, if the Devil promised to never tempt Jack again, he would let him back down from the tree he had him trapped in. The Devil agreed. When the Devil got down from the tree he made it so Jack would walk the Earth at Night with no shelter. Jack died and when it came to his judgement he was denied passage enterance to Heaven for his dealing with the Devil. He was also denied access to Hell because he had tricked the Devil.
In return, the Devil gave him a single ember to light his way through the darkness of inbetween. The Amber was placed inside a hollowed out turnip to keep it glowing longer. The Irish used the turnips as their "Jack of Lantern" as that is what was used originally. The making of a Jack of Lantern on Halloween is to protect the inbetweens of neither here or neither there from been tricked or trapped into the Devil and its snares.
The Irish Immigrants went to America and found that the Pumpkins were more plentiful than the Irish Turnips as their Jack of Lanterns, so, at Halloween they used Pumpkins instead. Today the Jack of Lanterns is more commonly known to be made out of a Carved out Pumpkin that a Irish Turnip.
Today, Halloween has gone from an old age Pagen Celtic Ritual to The Passing of All Souls to Festival of Carnavals and Parties.
This is done by many by:
Dressing Up in Scary Outfits,
Parties of Music and Haunting Tales of Ghosts,
The Snares of The Devil of Posessions.
Halloween is a day of celebrating, dressing up, and eating the foods of the Harvest Season of October Ending. It is the Halloween that shows the Autumn glow that, shows its, Harvest of falling apples from the trees and the golden falling leaves, beneath our feet.
Halloween, shows through with it's amber leaves and the amber glows of candles and Jack of Lanterns on the lawns and windows ledges of homes. This, to those that believe in unrest spirits at Halloween, guards us from the unrest and haunting spirits that roam the Earth.