Halloween is a holiday celebrated on the night of October 31, usually by children dressing in costumes and going door-to-door collecting candy. It is celebrated in much of the Western world, though most commonly in the United States, the United Kingdom, the Republic of Ireland, Canada and sometimes in Australia and New Zealand. Irish, Scots and other immigrants brought older versions of the tradition to North America in the 19th century. Most other Western countries have embraced Halloween as a part of American pop culture in the late 20th century.
The term "Halloween" derives from Hallowe'en, an old contraction, still retained in Scotland and some parts of Canada, of "All Hallow's Eve," so called as it is the day before All Saints day (observed by some Christians, including Roman Catholics), which used to be called "All Hallows," derived from All Hallowed Souls.
In Ireland, the name was Hallow Eve and this name is still used by some older people. Halloween was formerly also sometimes called All Saints' Eve. The holiday was a day of religious festivities in various northern European pagan traditions, until it was appropriated by Christian missionaries (along with Christmas and Easter, two other traditional northern European pagan holidays) and given a Christian reinterpretation.
In Mexico, All Saint's Day, following Halloween, is the Day of the Dead.
Halloween is also called "Pooky Night" in some parts of Ireland, presumably named after the puca, a mischievous spirit.
"Punkie Night" is observed on the last Thursday in October in the village of Hinton St. George in the county of Somerset in England. On this night, children carry lanterns made from hollowed-out mangel-wurzels (a kind of beet; in modern days, pumpkins are used) with faces carved into them. They bring these around the village, collecting money and singing the punkie song. 'Punkie' is derived from 'pumpkin' or 'punk,' meaning 'tinder.'
Though the custom is only attested over the last century, and the mangel-wurzel itself was introduced into English agriculture in the late 18th century, "Punkie Night" appears to be much older even than the fable that now accounts for it. The story goes that the wives of Hinton St. George went looking for their wayward husbands at the fair held nearby at Chiselborough, the last Thursday in October, but first hollowed out mangel wurzels in order to make lanterns to light their way. The drunken husbands saw the eerie lights, thought they were "goolies" (the restless spirits of children who had died before they were baptized), and fled in terror. Children carry the punkies now. The event has spread since about 1960 to the neighboring village of Chiselborough.
In the United Kingdom, the pagan Celts celebrated the Day of the Dead on Halloween. The spirits supposedly rose from the dead and, in order to attract them, food was left on the doors. To scare off the evil spirits, the Celts wore masks. When the Romans invaded Britain, they embellished the tradition with their own, which is the celebration of the harvest and honoring the dead.
These traditions were then passed on to the United States. Anoka, Minnesota, USA, the self-proclaimed "Halloween Capital of the World," celebrates with a large civic parade.
Halloween is sometimes associated with the occult. Many European cultural traditions hold that Halloween is one of the "liminal" times of the year when the spirit world can make contact with the natural world and when magic is most potent.
Read complete history of halloween at http://theunexplainedmysteries.com/halloween.html