The word "Halloween" has originated in the Catholic Church. It began from a contracted bribery of All Hallows Eve. According to Halloween history, November 1 is an "All hollows day" (day of all Saints), a Catholic day of celebration in honor of the Saints. But in Celtic Ireland during the 5th century BC, the summer formally ended on October 31. This holiday was recognized as Samhain, which indicates end of summer and start of Celtic New Year.
Historical Facts of Halloween:
Halloween is originated from the pagan festival of Samhain, where the people lit the bonfires. During this season, the pagans used to store the winter essentials and food. They believed that the ghostly powers and creatures visit to the human world on this day to destroy the crops and give diseases. Therefore, people dressed up in ghostly costumes and masks to appease the power of the evil spirit or not to get recognized as a human being among the spirits.
People wear ghostly masks and costumes to mimic spooks, ghosts and other evil power. Parties and get-togethers are organized, in which people dress up as per the party theme to have fun.
Halloween became apparent with the time and thus its tradition as well. Today people dress up as an historical character, cartoon character or a popular icon.
When the Roman Empire and Celts were merged, a number of Roman rituals came into existence. One among them was worshiping the Pomona (goddess of the harvest). It is portrayed by an idol sitting on a basket which contains flowers and fruits. Apples were considered as one of the sacred fruit of the goddess. This custom was celebrated by playing games of divination.
Trick or Treat:
In some countries, Halloween is considered as a beggar's night'. They believed that on this day, the poor people go from one door to another to get the food (apples, butter, cheese, bread cakes, eggs etc) in return to the prayers for the dead persons. This activity was performed on 1st November and was described as Hallowmas. This tradition evolved with time and now celebrated as trick or treating. Generally, kids go door to door to ask for the option of trick or treat. Usually they are treated as no one wants to get tricked by little spooks!!
This custom probably has a number of origins. The Druids considered that the dead or spirits would play tricks with human beings and cause destruction and panic. They had to be mollified, so the folks would provide food to the Druids when they visit home.
Also, in the ninth century, a European custom reffered as souling (All Souls Day) came into existence. This was celebrated on November2. As per this customs, the Christians would walk from one village to village ask for the e soul cakes. These cakes are made from the square bread pieces and currants. The Christians used to pray for the donor in return to the soul cakes. It was believed that the soul of the dead lingered in limbo for sometime after death and the prayer (even made by the strangers) could expedite the passage of the soul towards heaven.
Jack o Lanterns:
As per this custom, the Irish kids used to carve the turnips or the potatoes and light them during the Halloween night. They venerated a devious Irish villain called Jack. He was so wicked that neither the evil spirit not the divine spirit liked him. He was rejected by both profane and holy, in search of place to rest he wandered throughout the world endlessly and finally he get the warmth at the gleaming candle in a rotten turnip.
Halloween history is woven with several stories which reveal a number of customs, traditions and facts. But, yes it is true that you can differentiate today's Halloween celebration with the older one as a lot of modifications have been evolved in this custom.