Samhain (pronounced sa – win) was a Gaelic festival that marked the end of the harvest season and the beginning of winter or the ‘darker half’ of the year, held on October 31–November 1. Along with Imbolc, Beltane and Lughnasadh it made up the four Gaelic seasonal festivals, which today Neo-Pagans and Wiccans celebrate as High Holy Days.
Samhain (like Beltane) was seen as a time when the ‘door’ to the Otherworld opened enough for the souls of the dead, and other beings, to come into our world. Feasts were had, at which the souls of dead kin were beckoned to attend and a place set at the table for them. Neo-Pagans and Wiccans currently perform rituals to honor this day and communicate with those in the Otherworld.
Divination was sometimes used to communicate with the dearly departed. Some other Divination uses were to find out the identity of one’s future spouse, the location of one’s future home, and how many children one might have. Apples were peeled, the peel tossed over the shoulder, and its shape examined to see if it formed the first letter of the future spouse’s name. Nuts were roasted on the hearth and their behavior interpreted – if the nuts stayed together, so would the couple. Egg whites were dropped in water, and the shapes foretold the number of future children.
People also took steps to protect themselves from harmful spirits, which is thought to have led to the custom of guising, wearing costumes and masks to befuddle, ward-off or represent the harmful spirits and fairies. People also carved pumpkins, lit them and placed them on doorsteps to protect their homes from evil spirits. These traditions for many have lost their spiritual significance but are still celebrated as part of Halloween, Hallowed Evening.
So whether you dress up for Halloween or perform a ritual for Samhain or both, I wish you a Blessed Day.
Information from http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Samhain