Halloween, also known as All Hallows' Eve, is an annual festival that takes place around the world on October 31, the eve of the Christian feast of All Hallows. It is thought to have originated with the ancient Celtic festival of Samhain, when people would light bonfires and wear costumes to ward off roaming ghosts. In recent times the festival is celebrated with activities including dressing up in spooky costumes, trick-or-treating, apple bobbing, carving pumpkins into jack-o'-lanterns and lighting bonfires.
While Halloween does have its serious side, it is also a great excuse for a party. But you need to do some careful planning. Invite everyone early. Then choose a venue: you don't have to host the party at home. You could meet your friends at a public place such as a park. Everyone can bring a different sort of snack.
Costumes for youngsters
The most popular costumes used to be vampires, ghosts or skeletons. But now some children use Halloween as an excuse to dress up as their favourite cartoon or comic character.
Little girls might dress up as a princess from a fairy tale. Superman and Spider-Man outfits have been popular for years with little boys.
Costumes don't have to be expensive. Check on the Web for easy costumes to make at home.
Ideas for teens
Some teenage girls make the most of the opportunity to wear something they wouldn't usually dare to. This may be a traditional costume, such as a cat or witch, but with a twist - for example, high heels or hot pants and tights. As for guys, dressing as famous people is popular - Michael Jackson was a favourite last year.
Halloween food should be easy to prepare and easy to eat. With a bit of thought, your treats can be exciting and even healthy.
'Eyeballs' can be made out of thick slices of carrot, with a spoonful of cream cheese on top. Put a black olive on top of the cream cheese to make the pupil.
'Sweet eyeballs' can be made with tinned lychees and red or black grapes. Push the grape into the hole in the lychee.
'Mouths' can be made from apples and almond pieces. Cut the apple into four. Cut a 'V' into the skin side, towards the core. Dip the slices into lemon juice to stop them from turning brown. Stick the almond pieces into the top and bottom of the 'mouth' for teeth.
'Ghost cakes' can be made with any dark cake. Chocolate cake is ideal.
Cut a small ghost-shaped stencil out of a piece of paper. Cut the cake into slices. Place the paper over the slice and fill the ghost shape with icing sugar or white icing. Use silver cake balls for the eyes.
Jelly 'pumpkins'. Slice the tops of some oranges almost all the way through. Scoop out the flesh from inside. Make some jelly according to the instructions. Choose a dark coloured jelly, like grape or blackcurrant, to make it spookier. When the jelly is nearly cool, pour it into the orange shells. Place them in the fridge.
When the jelly is set, you can cut 'pumpkin face' shapes. Use a sharp knife to cut out eyes, a nose and a mouth. Be very careful. Ask an adult for help if you're not used to cooking.
Make a 'hand' jelly, or ice block for the cold drink bowl. Take a new rubber glove and ask someone to hold it over the sink. Pour cool jelly mix or red fruit juice into it. Tie securely and put into the freezer. Make sure it is not touching anything else.
When it's frozen, cut the glove away with small scissors. Put the 'hand' in a bowl of the same coloured juice.
Apple bobbing has been a traditional Halloween game for centuries. Fill a large plastic bowl with water and several apples. Players have to try to catch the apples - but they must keep their hands behind their backs. They have to use their teeth!
Halloween in Hong Kong. Family-friendly Ocean Park has got into the spirit of Halloween as usual. Check out their website to find out about the spooky attractions.
Hong Kong Disneyland is also joining in the celebrations. They have changed the park into a scare-ground. Disneyland has a fantastic 'Nightmare in the Sky' planned for this year. This is the first Halloween fireworks show.
Now do this:
1 What are popular Halloween costume choices?
a. angels and cherubs
b. ghosts and vampires
c. cowboys and Indians
2 Apple ... is an ancient Halloween game.
3 What can be used to make 'sweet eyeballs'?
a. lychees and grapes
b. lemons and olives
c. tomatoes and cherries