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Halloween is an off shoot of the Celtic festival of Samhain, or "summer's end." This was the time of year that the Celts gathered in their crops and prepared for winter. With the coming of winter, the Celts believed that they had to appease spirits of the underworld in order to ensure good crops next year. Sacred bonfires were built, animals and crops sacrificed, food placed on door steps to ward off evil spirits. Grotesque faces were carved into turnips, again, to ward off spirits. This carving of turnips over time warped into pumpkin carving, thus the "Jack O Lantern."
Enter the Romans, who conquered the Celts, began to impose the Christian values on the pagan worshiping Celts. The Catholic Church had its own celebration at the same time the Celts had the Festival of Samhain. The Catholics celebration was in honor of fallen saints and martyrs, known as "All Saint's Day." And was later referred to as "All-Hallows Eve." You know the rest, we now know it as "Halloween."
After coming to America with Irish immigrants escaping the potato famine, Halloween lost most of the superstitions and religious traditions. As Halloween caught on in the U. S. it became an event geared toward children. The little cherubs don costumes resembling witches, fictional characters, famous people and so on; trudge through their neighborhoods saying, "trick or treat." They are usually rewarded with fruit or candy. Chocolate is the number one preferred treat by children. Halloween is a six billion dollar a year business in the U. S.
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