In Britain, the major public holiday used to be Guy Fawkes Day... that was celebrated on November 5th with things like bonfires and fireworks... I think that made Halloween seem preferable. The idea of having pumpkins and costumes and parties seemed much more appealing than burning down your neighborhood.
For about 30 years, Halloween was taken over by pranksters. By the '30s, pranks were causing cities millions of dollars of damage. They considered banning Halloween in many cities, but instead, parents got together and came up with party ideas for kids, and a lot of them involved dressing up and costuming.