There are those who say you can only celebrate Halloween by the light of a neep lantern with your face wet from bobbing for apples, most likely in a dark basement.  

No trick or treating for them, thank you very much. And you can never, ever ask for candy instead of oranges and hard-shelled peanuts.  

Such people are miserable, and you should ignore them. Here’s why.  

As every parent knows, Halloween is coming tomorrow. The leaves are brown, pumpkins are appearing on the lawn and there’s likely skeletons in the garden.  

By now, many grown-up's fingers will have been sticky with glue and paint from costume-making, while others’ bank balances will be lighter from mums and dads opting for the store-bought option.  

There’s been plenty of warning. Since the start of last month the supermarkets have been stuffed with all manner of spooky supplies, from barrels of sweets to witches’ brooms, devils’ horns, skull masks and vampire fangs. 

The Herald: Pumpkin patches are big business these days

There’s decorations too. Spiders’ webs, gravestones, ghouls and goblins – everything you could want to transform your home into a scary sanctum of free candy can be bought in hops or online.   

It’s like Christmas in a crypt. Frightful festive fun for all the family. How did it come to this? Like a zombie virus, Halloween has crept up to become another Hallmark Holiday, with an industry ramped behind it ready to fill its coffers with parents’ ghostly gold. 

It’s enough to make Scotland’s dour, presbyterian forefathers spin uneasily in their graves.  

READ MORE: Halloween in Scotland: 7 Celtic traditions from Samhain

Or is it? Lets go back in time, to when it all began. Halloween is a tradition dating back centuries, whose roots go back millennia.  

Based on the Celtic festival of Samhain, it has always had something of the night about it, and was held to welcome the end of the harvest – and the coming of winter’s darkness.  

It’s not much of a leap from that thought to imagining what may lurk in the inky night, and so came the belief that it was time when the boundary between our world and the spirit realm was thin.  

People are supposed to have dressed up back then too - in animal skins given, that plastic masks were still some way off. Dressed accordingly, they fired up bonfires to light the night and drive back the gloom.  

The Herald: Fiendish fun for all the family 

This was supposed to scare off the evil spirits in the darkness, while costumes confused them, though history is unclear. But what is certain is that getting the dressing up at the end of October goes back a long way indeed. 

The Romans are said to have had an influence after their conquest of Celtic lands. Their festival to celebrate Pomona, goddess of fruit, around the same time and possibly sparking the link between Halloween and apples.  

READ MORE: Is this Scotland's scariest Halloween House? 

The Church, too, got its oar in, declaring November 1 All Soul’s Day, ‘Alholowmesse’ in Old English, a phrase which corrupted through time to give the festival its current name.  

But it was America that really lit the touchpaper in the pumpkin lantern. The huge influx of Scottish and Irish immigrants in the 19th century took the guising spirit with them, and the tradition caught on in a big way.  

Never ones to do things by half measures, the US embraced the festival and trips to the pumpkin patch, scary decorations and trick or treating for sweets leaked back across the Atlantic. 

The Herald: Do you decorate your home? 

The enthusiasm has been infectious - Last year, Halloween sales in the UK were up to a total of £687 million from just £12 million in 2021. 

And this is great. From animal skins to priestly interventions, Roman rites and supermarket shelves groaning with goods, Halloween has always lurked in the background, reinvented countless times.  

And while the traditionalists with their neeps may not like it, that’s how folklore survives. Customs and beliefs that span the ages need to travel and transmute, coming back to us in new forms that breath fresh life into old ideas. 

After centuries, Halloween is still alive - or undead, if you will – and its latest incarnation is nothing to be frightened of.