- It began with the Celtic people up to 2,000 years ago. They used this day to honour Samhain, the 'lord of death,' who called together wicked spirits; it was believed that on this night the souls of the dead returned to their earthly homes to be entertained with food; failure to provide food meant that the wicked spirits wouldn't be exorcised. The practice of giving an 'offering' has continued, though many other practices associated with this day have changed over the years.
- There is a connection to Christianity, specifically to the Roman Catholic Church. All Saints Day was originally held on a different day, but was eventually moved to November 01; thus October 31 became All Hallows Eve, intended to honour all saints who didn't have a special day of their own. The church essentially confiscated the pagan day for its own uses, and incorporated some of the traditions of Samhain to further its mission to convert pagans. Ironically, the celebrations marked very divergent belief systems: one in respect of evil spirits; the other honouring saints.
There are other connections and 'tie-ins' with witchcraft, and other belief systems and practices...but to be honest, I didn't really feel like delving into this stuff any further. It kinda freaks me out.
We did have some fun as a family on Halloween, and for us it was something very different from what was originally intended...but this is food for thought for the future.
I'll post in a moment about how we spent our Halloween.