Halloween is almost upon us.

For the history buffs – or just plain curious – among you, this tradition originated with the ancient Celtic festival of Samhain, when people would light bonfires and wear costumes to ward off ghosts.

In the eighth century, Pope Gregory III designated Nov. 1 as a time to honor all saints. Soon, All Saints Day incorporated some of the traditions of Samhain. The evening before was known as All Hallows Eve, and later Halloween.

Over time, Halloween evolved into the commercialized experience we all know (and love/hate) today, including everything from costume parades to haunted hayrides and, of course, trick-or-treating.

It has been a long time since the days of widespread fear over poisoned and/or tampered-with candy. (Though that’s not entirely an urban legend, as it turns out).

It’s probably not terribly smart to let your kids eat homemade treats from people they don’t know well. (Those popcorn balls, though, man, those were the days).

And also it’s wise to check the candy before letting young ghosts and goblins dig in.

Various local police departments have been issuing tips for staying safe this Halloween season. (Tip 1: Don’t drive to a suburban neighborhood, dump your kids out of the car and let them run amok unsupervised). Here are some other helpful hints, compliments of the Troy Police Department:

Plan your route. As mentioned earlier, adults should be aware where kids are, and, better yet, stay with them – especially if they’re on the young side.

See and Be Seen. Provide flashlights with fresh batteries for all children. Adding reflective tape to costumes and bags helps increase visibility at night. Glow sticks can also work for this purpose. They make them in necklace and bracelet form.

Agree on a route – and a curfew time – for older kids. Remind kids to stay in groups, and to carry a cell phone in case of an emergency. (Does any tween or teen go out without one these days?)

Stick to well-lit neighborhoods and porches. NEVER enter someone’s home or car to obtain treats.

Practice pedestrian safety. Cross at the crosswalk, don’t dart out into the street between parked cars. Motorists can have difficulty seeing trick-or-treaters – even if they are wearing reflective gear.

Just in case. Review with children how to call 9-1-1 if they ever have an emergency or become lost.

Also remember: Teal blue pumpkins, used to hold candy or for decoration, generally indicate that a house is food-allergen-friendly – and that non-food treats such as glow-sticks or stickers will be given out to trick-or-treaters.

Also, a number of communities are moving Halloween festivities inside due to the expected inclement weather. (The forecast is calling for rain and highs around 70 degrees tomorrow!1) And alternative events – like trunk-or-treating, or the “Mall-o-ween” at Crossgates, are also an option.

However you decide to celebrate tomorrow, have fun and stay safe out there!!

Photo credit: George Fazio.