Halloween was commonly referred to as "All Hollows" Eve. It originated from the pagan holiday honoring the dead. The Roman Catholic Church created All Saints Day (also called Hallomas) on November 1st to honor Saints and All Souls Day on November 2and to honor and pray for the souls of the dead. These holidays were created by the church, in part to downplay the pagan holidays. Needless to say, it did not succeed. Halloween as we know it today, has grown from the ancient Druid Holiday. Along the way both fun, frights, and Satanic twists have been added to the mix
Halloween is second only to Christmas in spending. Consumers spend over $2.5 Billion during Halloween. That's a whole lot of candy, costumes, decorations, and party goods.
Like Christmas, Halloween is steeped in traditions. While Christmas can be a stressful period, Halloween is all about fun. People really get into the Halloween tradition and "spirit". Some religions are against celebrating Halloween, citing its roots in ancient Druid religion. While this is true, Today's Halloween celebrations are all about fun, with a generous amount of imagination.
Pumpkins have inhabited the planet for thousands of years. They originated in Central America. They were used then (and now) as a food crop. Over the course of centuries, pumpkins spread their vines across all of North and South America. When Europeans arrived in the New World, they found pumpkins plentiful and used in cooking by Native Americans. They took seeds back to Europe where they quickly became popular.
The Irish carved Turnips and put coals or small candles inside. They were placed outside their homes on All Hallow's Eve to ward off evil spirits. They were also known to use potatoes and Rutabagas.
When Irish Immigrants came to America, they quickly discovered that Jack O'Lanterns were much easier to carve out and began using them. This truly neat tradition quickly spread to the general population in America and elsewhere.
Others believe that the first Jack O'Lanterns came from the Story of Stingy Jack.
As the story goes, Stingy Jack was a miserable, old drunk who liked to play tricks on everyone: family, friends, his mother and even the Devil himself. One day, he tricked the Devil into climbing up an apple tree. Once the Devil climbed up the apple tree, Stingy Jack hurriedly placed crosses around the trunk of the tree. The Devil was then unable to get down the tree. Stingy Jack made the Devil promise him not to take his soul when he died. Once the devil promised not to take his soul, Stingy Jack removed the crosses and let the Devil down.
Many years later, when Jack finally died, he went to the pearly gates of Heaven and was told by Saint Peter that he was too mean and too cruel, and had led a miserable and worthless life on earth. He was not allowed to enter heaven. He then went down to Hell and the Devil. The Devil kept his promise and would not allow him to enter Hell. Now Jack was scared and had nowhere to go but to wander about forever in the darkness between heaven and hell. He asked the Devil how he could leave as there was no light. The Devil tossed him an ember from the flames of Hell to help him light his way. Jack placed the ember in a hollowed out Turnip, one of his favorite foods which he always carried around with him whenever he could steal one. For that day onward, Stingy Jack roamed the earth without a resting place, lighting his way as he went with his "Jack O'Lantern".
On all Hallow's eve, the Irish hollowed out Turnips, rutabagas, gourds, potatoes and beets. They placed a light in them to ward off evil spirits and keep Stingy Jack away.
It is believed that the Irish began the tradition of Trick or Treating. In preparation for All Hallow's Eve, Irish townsfolk would visit neighbors and ask for contributions of food for a feast in the town.
I found these facts here: http://holidayinsights.com/halloween/facts.htm There are others there that I didn't paste and links to recipes and other fun things.
Everyone have a safe and happy Halloween!