For Irish Catholics, such as myself; Samhain (sam – summer/ fuin end of), as Halloween is known, is akin to the Mexican Festival of the Dead. It is customary for families to leave doors open so that the recent dead may come to warm themselves by the fire. You carry carved out gourds with candles inside to see your way but also to protect you from the evil that is also about.
Gathering food was an important part of Samhain because any unharvested/leftover food was spat upon by the puca, evil fairies, who would then make it inedible; this is where the modern tradition of children going out to “gather” candy comes from.
The idea that we wear masks and go around shouting trick or treat smell my feet, is the modern interpretation of villagers wearing ugly disguises and making as much noise as they could to chase away the evil that also prowled the night.
Leaving a carved pumpkin on your doorstoop is a relic of this time as well, leaving food out invited the dear dead home, leaving food by hawthorn or whitethorn bushes, homes of the good fairies invoked their protect.
So this Halloween I say: Oiche Shona Shamhna! Happy Halloween! (Pronounced ‘ee-hah shona how-nah’)