All Hallows Eve!
What a wonderful holiday! I'm so glad we celebrate it here in the US as not all countries in the world do. I decided to look up a little about Halloween and found a lot of information on Wikipedia, of course! And I'm sure all of it's 100% accurate, right?
It seems that All Hallows Eve began as a Celtic or maybe Roman harvest festival and gradually developed a Christian association, but never the less, it's a time to celebrate the afterlife, to prepare for the coming of winter, and interestingly, to divine one's future. If a woman wanted to know if she would marry, she sat in a darkened room and stared into a mirror. Eventually, she would see the face of her future husband or she would see a skull which meant she would die before marrying. Hmmmm--which would be better? She could also peel an apple and toss it over her shoulder. It would land on the floor in the shape of her future husband's initial.
Anyway, here a is some information paraphrased from Wikipedia in case you're interested.
Samhain ( a Celtic festival) marked the end of the harvest season and beginning of winter or the 'darker half' of the year. It was seen as a liminal time, when the spirits or fairies could more easily come into our world and were particularly active.
At Samhain, it was believed that the fairies needed to be propitiated (win favor of the spirits) to ensure that the people and their livestock survived the winter. Offerings of food and drink, or portions of the crops, were left for the spirits. The souls of the dead were also said to revisit their homes. Places were set at the dinner table or by the fire to welcome them.
Special bonfires were lit and there were rituals involving them. Their flames, smoke and ashes were deemed to have protective and cleansing powers, and were also used for divination. It is suggested that the fires were a kind of imitative or sympathetic magic– they mimicked the Sun, helping the "powers of growth" and holding back the decay and darkness of winter.
And there's a lot more information on the Wikipedia.
So, prepare your bonfire, carve your pumpkin or turnip, don your scary costume, get the apples ready for bobbing and have a wonderful, scary All Hallows Eve!