Previously known as All Hallow’s Eve or All Saints Eve, it takes place on the night before the Christian holiday on November 1st that is All Saints Day. However, it is believed that Halloween has ancient pagan origins. 2,000 years ago for the Celts it was a harvest festival which marked the last day of summer, the start of the new year and the beginning of winter with dark, cold days. There was also an association with human death. The night of 31 October was the night Celts celebrated Samhain when it was believed that ghosts of the dead returned to earth. The presence of ghostly spirits were used by the Druids as an important source of comfort during the coming winter months. By the 9th Century it had blended with a Christian celebration for All Souls Day on 2nd November. This was celebrated with big bonfires, parades, the telling of ghost stories and dressing in saint, angel and devil inspired costumes. Sometime later it became known as All Hallows and eventually as Halloween. Although Halloween had lost most of its religious overtones by the start of the 20th Century, many of the traditions remained such as ‘apple bobbing’ and dressing up in costumes. Trick or treating is probably based on the early All Souls Day festivities when the poor would beg for food and were given ‘soul’s cakes’ in return for prayers for their dead relatives. In the 21st Century decorating for Halloween couldn’t be easier. There are 2 essential colours to use - Black and Orange. Pumpkins are a link with the ancient harvest festival origins of Halloween and being orange makes it the favoured focal point for Halloween decorations in many homes. Orange and black baubles with fairy lights and lanterns can be hung on trees outside the home to light the way for trick and treaters and look equally good displayed indoors. Children will love the addition of plastic spiders, cobwebs and all sorts of other vermin and ghoulish decorations. If you prefer to avoid the ghoulish decorations, add in some tea lights with black tree decoration. These are perfect for Halloween and can be kept for Christmas decorating a couple of months’ later. Christmas Style Decorating Tip Make a stylish Halloween centrepiece by wrapping a garland of autumn leaves round a lantern. Add some artificial or real apples and a few orange and black baubles. Finish off with an orange candle in the centre. You can always include the occasional black plastic spider for extra effect, available from local supermarkets or party shop.