Halloween has its origins in the mists of time, although our modern version has strayed considerably from its roots, and no one can say for sure where it all began.
The prevailing theory takes us back to two ancient observances. Samhain (meaning summer's end) was a Celtic festivity from pre-Christian times that celebrated the end of summer, with a gathering of harvest and preparation for winter. It was rather like our modern Thanksgiving, except for the wearing of costumes and the offerings presented to the gods and goddesses for their share of the harvest. The second tradition was All Hallows Eve or All Saints Day, a Christian tradition that developed alongside Samhain. This celebration also took place on November 1st and honoured the dead. It was believed that at this time of the year the veil between our living world and the dead was at its thinnest, allowing a connection to be made. It was a time for praying for the souls of those who had died but not yet reached Heaven, and was made an official Holy Day by Pope Gregory IV.
Another tradition in Christian times that developed in Britain was "souling" On November 1st, the poor would go from door to door in costume or disguise asking for food in return for praying for the souls of the dead.
In North America, Halloween in the earlier part of last century involved the playing of pranks and sometimes became violent and out of control. It might have been in an effort to curb this behaviour that the focus was shifted to children and their costumes and treats. The use of costumes was brought over to North America from Ireland with the waves of immigration, so again we see the Celtic roots.
No matter the origin of the holiday, Halloween can be a fun time for children and adults alike, and of course a jackpot for the dental industry. So dress up, get a huge goodie bag and go knock on some doors or pass out treats. Just stay away from haunted houses.