Maybe it's because I never had any pleasant experiences with costume parties, but I've never liked Halloween. I never liked trick-or-treating, even as a child. Oh, the candy is okay, but Easter is a much more efficient chocolate delivery device than Halloween will ever be.
But the history of Halloween is fairly interesting.
Harvest festivals date back to pre-history, and it is not surprising that pumpkins, among the largest and sweetest of all foods, would figure into both Halloween and Thanksgiving. But the big orange gourds are native to the New World and are a comparatively recent Halloween feature. Jack-o-lanterns were carved from turnips in the British Isles.
The Celtic festival Samhain, pronounced like "sow'-an," translates to "Summer's End," and it was a harvest festival, but with macabre overtones, including animal sacrifices in some places, but Halloween is more closely derived from All Saint's Eve, also known as All Hallow's Eve, when the dead were seen as having a shot at getting revenge on the living before All Saint's Day. People wore masks to avoid being spotted by the dead. Good clean fun for the kids!
Halloween was a known event for the earliest Americans colonials but the Puritans didn't believe in it, and it didn't really catch on until the late 1800s after a lot of people had emigrated from Ireland and Scotland. Because Samhain had been around for centuries, Irish and Scottish clerics took a more benign view of Halloween than some others, and let's not forget that the New England puritans were fundamentalists who emigrated to the New World in part because they did not find the religious environment in England congenial. They had a strong sense of knowing better than others what was good and what was wrong, as Hawaii residents soon learned when people began moving here from Boston later on.
Trick-or-treating, a term that first appeared in print in 1927 in Canada and was commonplace by the 1940s, is thought to stem from a Scottish practice of children walking from one house to another, singing or performing for food, and from wassailing, better known nowadays as Christmas caroling. Shakespeare in 1593 in "The Two Gentlemen of Verona" refers to a man whining "like a beggar at Hallowmas." So the practices of Halloween are to an extent the gently perverted pre-echoes of the somewhat more wholesome festivites of Thanksgiving and Christmas.
The practice of going into Waikiki, or some similar place in other cities, anonymous behind a mask and costume, for dancing and shouting and enebriation, is a curious twist to all this, since it is more similar to Mardi Gras and the masked balls of Venice than to Halloween.
And how will I celebrate Halloween? I just did, by writing this. Good night and keep it down.