The origins of Halloween in the UK is disputed. But no matter which one version of the story you choose - it's centuries old. All Hallows' Eve, comes from the Old English halga or "holy". Up until 1500 the word "hallow" referred to a holy person and so Halloween was named as the night before All Saints' Day There are historians that believe Halloween came with the Romans, and that it was some kind of a fertility festival named after the Roman Godess of fertility and abundance, the wood nympf Pomona. (The French got their names for apples - pomme - from her). But other say the name goes back even longer. Samhain was a three day Celtic New years festival, and it means summers end. Samhain was celebrated with bonfires and huge food festivals. But historians do not agree whether these festivals indeed are the source for Halloween. The Welsh had a festival of their own. And later when Christianity came, All Saint's day was moved form the 31st and instituted on the first of November. It's really during the Middle Age that Halloween came to the fore. Bonfires became really popular, and was seen as way to purify the soul, and ward off evil spirits. Fortune telling was a particular past time, in particular who one's future love interest might be. The BBC elaborates
: Eating in general was an important component of Halloween as it is with many holidays. The most distinctive was "souling" or "soul-caking", in which children went from house to house singing rhymes and saying prayers for the souls of the dead. The soul cakes they received in return were good luck and represented a soul being freed from purgatory.
Then during the English Civil War, the parliament banned all the Catholic autumn festival, except of course Guy Fawkes. And hence Halloween diminished in importance in the UK. But with the Potato famine in Ireland one million mainly Irish immigrated to the US. Soon after the festival popped up in the US. the BBC again: It is no coincidence that the earliest references to Halloween appeared in America shortly afterwards. In fact, an American ladies magazine printed a story in 1870 that describes it as an "English" holiday.