Using pumpkins as lanterns at Halloween is based on an ancient Celtic custom brought to America by Irish immigrants. All Hallows' Eve on October 31 marked the end of the old Celtic calendar year. On that night, hollowed-out gourds with candles inside were placed on windowsills to welcome home spirits of deceased ancestors and to ward off evil spirits, including a restless soul named "Stingy Jack."
Believing that spirits and ghosts roamed the land on All Hallows' Eve, the ancients Celts wore costumes and masks to avoid detection by these ghosts.
Have you ever wondered how trick-or-treating began? On All Hallows' Eve, the Celts would leave food on their doorsteps to keep the hungry ghosts from entering their homes.
The movie Halloween was made in just 21 days in 1978, on a very limited budget.
It's not uncommon for people to be afraid of Halloween. In fact, there's even a name for this fear: Samhainophobia.
Originally published on HealthyKids.com, August 2004.