It's that time of year to dress up in fancy and scary outfits as Halloween 2017 is just round the corner. A popular festival today, Halloween's origins go back several centuries.

When is Halloween?

The day marks the end of summer and the harvest season and the beginning of the harsh cold winter. The annual festival, which is celebrated on 31 October every year, falls on Tuesday this year. Also known as All Hallows' Eve and Hallowmas Eve, Halloween is celebrated a day before All Saints' Day.

Samhain festival

Some believe the origin of the annual holiday goes back several centuries to an ancient European tradition, which over time evolved into today's grand costume gala. It is believed to have started as the Celtic festival of Samhain.

Legend has it that 2,000 years ago, in Celtic Ireland, the Samhain festival marked the exact partition between the lighter winter and the darker winter season.

It was popularly believed that during this time the barrier partitioning the human world and that of ghosts and spirits becomes very fragile, allowing spirits to enter the human realm. As such, people started wearing ghostly costumes and masks to disguise themselves and ward off evil spirits.

To avoid crop damage and bring the holy light into their lives, huge sacred bonfires and Jack-o'-lanterns were lit with people burning crops and sacrificing animals around them as an offering to the Celtic gods. After the ritual people extinguished and relit their fireplaces with the scared fire to keep them warm and protected during the forthcoming long and dark winter.

The festival evolved and spread to other countries after Pope Gregory III declared 1 November as All Saint day, in order to honour Christian martyrs and the saints who served the people. Halloween is followed by All Soul's Day, which was celebrated in a similar fashion like the Samhain festival.

Trick or treating

No Halloween is complete without children dressing up in scary but adorable ghost costumes and going door-to-door trick-or-treating people in order to collect candies. Their passion for the special candies can be measured by the innocent pranks played on them by parents at the bidding of American talk show host Jimmy Kimmel in the "I ate all of your Halloween candy" pranks video.

Watch the funny video here:

Halloween costumes and delicacies

By the ninth century, both the festivities blended and today it has become a global festival, during the celebration of which people wear whacky costumes inspired by fictional characters or real people.

Hollywood celebrities remain the centre of attraction for their outlandish choice of dresses to commemorate the day. Fans stay glued to social media as Kim Kardashian, Heidi Klum and other celebrities try to outdo their getup of the previous year with unique themes and ideas.

Just like the festival, the food during Halloween also has a distinctly ghostly theme. Some of the popular dishes for the festival are, Halloween Brain Dip with nachos, Pumpkin Dip, Dead Man's Finger or Witch's Fingers, ghoulish looking cupcakes and Walking Dead-themed Deviled Eggs. Click here for some Halloween party recipes.