Hallowe'en. The eve of All Hallows' or All Saints' Day celebrated the last night of October. In the Old Celtic calendar the year began on November 1, so that the last evening of October was the night of all the witches, which the Church (RCC) transformed into the Eve of All Saints. Source: The Oxford English Dictionary.
Abbreviated History and Customs of Halloween Oxford English Dictionary (Second Edition).........."Hallowe'en. The eve of All Hallows' or All Saints' Day celebrated the last night of October. In the Old Celtic calendar the year began on November 1, so that the last evening of October was 'old years' night', the night of all the witches, which the Church transformed into the Eve of All Saints."
Encyclopedia Britannica (14th Edition)........."Hallowe'en or All Hallows Eve, the name given to Oct. 31, as the vigil of Hallowmas or All Saints' Day, now chiefly known as the eve of the Christian festival. It long antedates Christianity. The two chief characteristics of ancient Hallowe'en were the lighting of bonfires and the belief that this is the one night in the year during which ghosts and witches are most likely to wander abroad. History shows that the main celebrations of Hallowe'en were purely Druidical, and this is further proved by the fact that in parts of Ireland Oct. 31 is still known as Oidhche Shamhna, 'Vigil of Sama'. This is directly connected with the Druidic belief in the calling together of certain wicked souls on Hallowe'en by Saman, lord of death."
World Book Encyclopedia (1959 Edition)......."The Druids, an order of priests in ancient Gaul and Britain, believed that on Halloween, ghosts, spirits, fairies, witches, and elves came out to harm people. They thought the cat was sacred and believed that cats had once been human beings but were changed as a punishment for evil deeds. From these Druidic beliefs come the present-day use of witches, ghosts, and cats in Halloween festivities."
Halloween Through Twenty Centuries (by Ralph Linton)......"The American celebration rests upon Scottish and Irish folk customs which can be traced in direct line from pre-Christian times. Although Halloween has become a night of rollicking fun, superstitious spells, and eerie games which people take only half seriously, its beginnings were quite otherwise. The earliest Halloween celebrations were held by the Druids in honor of Samhain, Lord of the dead, whose festival fell on November 1."
World Book Encyclopedia (Quoted in the Atlanta Journal on 10/16/1977)......"It was the Celts who chose the date of October 31 as their new year's Eve and who originally intended it as a celebration of everything wicked, evil and dead. Also during their celebration they would gather around a community bonfire and offer as sacrifice their animals, their crops, and sometime themselves. And wearing costumes made from the heads and skins of other animals, they would also tell one another's fortunes for the coming year.
"The celebration remained much the same after the Romans conquered the Celts around 43 A.D. The Romans did, however, add a ceremony honoring their goddess of fruit and trees and thus the association with apples and the custom of bobbing for them."
World Book Encyclopedia (1959 Edition)......"In the A.D. 800's the church established All Saints Day on November 1 so that the people could continue a festival they had celebrated before becoming Christians. The mass that was said on this day was called Allhallowmas. The evening before became known as All Hallow e'ven or Halloween…. It means hallowed or holy evening."
World Book Encyclopedia (1959 Edition)....."Jack-O'-Lanterns were named for a man called Jack, who could not enter heaven or hell. As a result, he was doomed to wander in darkness with his lantern until Judgment Day."
Compton's Encyclopedia (1978 Edition)......."Customs and superstitions gathered through the ages go into our celebration of Halloween, or 'Holy Eve', on October 31. The day is so named because it is the even of the festival of All Saints, but many of the beliefs and observances connected with it arose long before the Christian Era, in the autumn festivals of pagan peoples…. Even after November 1 became a Christian feast day, honoring all saints, the peasants clung to the old pagan beliefs and customs that had grown up about Halloween…. Our Halloween celebrations today keep many of these early customs unchanged."