Happy Samhain?It's Halloween - All Hallows Eve, which is an interesting story of a word. To hallow is to make holy, as in to revere as holy, and the Catholic church was trying to turn an old Celtic rite to its own use, making the day after All Saints' Day. The end of October was a dark time for the Celts and, specifically, the Druids. This was the official end of summer and the night Samhain (pronounced SOW-in), when the dead walked the earth. It was supposed to be a time auspicious for foretelling the future. People would build large bonfires, sacrificing animals and crops, and they would dress in animal costumes.
The Romans ruled the Celts for hundreds of years, and traditions of the cultures intermingled. Romans has festivals for the dead in October as well, and also a day to honor the goddess of fruit and trees - hence bobbing for apples today. I haven't yet found where the handing out of candy (technically, buying off kids who would otherwise play a trick) started, though this sounds suspiciously like wassailing. And in Ireland, there is still a tradition of the barmbrack, a cake with a plain ring baked in, which sounds like a Gateau Roi (King's Cake), but in this case, the person who gets the ring is supposed to find his or her true love the coming year. Talk about pressure for a pre-teen.