Before we go further with celebrating Halloween, allow me to recommend what I consider the two best books about the holiday, both by Lisa Morton:
TRICK OR TREAT?: A HISTORY OF HALLOWEEN, published by Reaktion Books in October 2012.
“[She] begins by looking at how holidays like the Celtic Samhain, a Gaelic harvest festival, have blended with the British Guy Fawkes Day and the Catholic All Souls’ Day to produce the modern Halloween, and she explains how the holiday was reborn in America, where costumes and trick-or-treat rituals have become new customs. Morton takes into account the influence of related but independent holidays, especially the Mexican Day of the Dead, as well as the explosion in popularity of haunted attractions and the impact of such events as 9/11 and the economic recession on the celebration today. Trick or Treat also examines the effect Halloween has had on popular culture…. Includes both color and black and white illustrations, references, bibliography, and index.” (Publisher’s description)
THE HALLOWEEN ENCYCLOPEDIA, 2nd Edition, published by McFarland in Spring 2011.
“[With] A-Z entries covering the history, folklore, symbols, rituals, artifacts, and activities of Halloween. Morton’s research extends to Wiccan lore, Celtic observances, and Christian mythology, including the Mexican celebration of the Day of the Dead. She writes enthusiastically about folk customs and is sensitive to the controversies surrounding horror literature, witchcraft, and demonism. Without undue pedantry, she explains the house-to-house souling pilgrimage, the incorporation of cabbages in Scottish holidays, the source of the boogeyman in bogs, and the lengthy training of Druid priests in predicting the future…”—Booklist
[And, of course, if you are looking for terrific new Halloween fiction, don't forget Halloween: Magic, Mystery & the Macabre.]