Halloween was not the "Celtic Festival of the Dead" - far from the claims of druid sacrifice and blood rites, the feis of Samain was in fact marked by notorious revels of drinking and feasting.
The dead were actually brought to 31st October by the later Christian festivals of All Saints and All Souls.
Ancient monuments including British standing stone circles and pyramids in Egypt and South America were aligned to the rising of the star constellation of the Pleiades - at October's end.
The most famous of the Scottish witch trials centered on an alleged plot to assassinate King James VI, hatched at a Halloween night witches sabbat.
Irish and Scottish customs and superstitions travelled with emigration to America. Halloween rites described in an 18th century poem by Robert Burns survived into 20th century America and today's trick or treating is an evolution of Scots guising. Halloween has its origins in Scotland.
The huge success of the Harry Potter novels has coincided with the unprecedented rise in Halloween's popularity and the mainstream acceptance of modern witchcraft. All three have been attacked by the Fundamentalist Religious Right, which seeks to have them banned from American schools and communities.
Author: Max Oxbrow
Paperback: 268 pages
Product Code: HAL3YLPD98