x Abu Dhabi, UAETuesday 16 January 2018

The instant expert: Halloween

Halloween, the day when all things spooky are celebrated.

Float through any social event with M's fast facts. This week Samar Huneidi explains Halloween, the day celebrating all things spooky.

THE BASICS Halloween is observed each year on October 31. It is rooted in the Celtic festival of Samhain (November 1) and the Christian All Saints' Day, but has become largely secular, dedicated to all manner of party and costume craziness.

THE CELTIC WISDOM The ancient Celts believed that the line between this spirit world and the next (both good and evil) became thin at the end of October. This helps explain the origins of creepy costumes because the Celts thought the way to repel the harmful spirits was to dress up as one. It was also believed that November 1 was the one day the dead could return to Earth - so you never know who might be lurking under that costume.

THE CUSTOM "Trick or treating" is traced to Britain, where the poor would go begging and housewives would give them "soulcakes". The custom changed and children took the role of the beggars. As they paraded from door to door they'd be treated with apples, buns and money. The threat of tricks originated in the American West in the 1930s.

THE NAME Halloween comes from "All Hallows Evening", first celebrated in the 16th century and meaning the night before All Hallows or All Saints' Day, November 1. Up until the early 20th century it was still spelt "Hallowe'en".

DO SAY So, what are you dressing up as?

DON'T SAY I'm afraid of the dark.