It’s not easy to abide by a new month’s resolution to stop eating chocolate and only snack on fruit when you’ve got a big bowl of fun-size Mars bars in the kitchen.

There’s one in my kitchen every November. I buy a bag of them on October 31, in case any youngsters come Halloween tricking or treating, and end up eating most of them myself.

We never had trick or treat in my primary school days. Halloween was always celebrated and regarded as an Irish alternative to England’s Guy Fawkes Night, but it was a fairly low-key event. We use to make turnip lanterns, there were Halloween parties, and at school there were fancy dress competitions which looking back make me cringe with embarrassment.

I once wore a yellow bathing cap and a white sheet with a hole in the middle, and carried a frying pan, in an attempt to portray a fried egg. It can’t have been very successful, as I was continually having to explain to people what I was.

Private fireworks were banned in Northern Ireland - as unexpected bangs could cause widespread alarm - but there were public displays which were always well attended. Toffee apples were a favourite feature.

It was nothing like today’s Halloween celebrations, that have long since eclipsed Guy Fawkes Night over here. Halloween has overtaken Valentine’s Day to become the most profitable event of the year after Christmas and Easter.

Of course we’ve got the “greatest nation on earth” to thank for this. Americans can’t do anything by halves and since early in the last century they’ve used it as an opportunity for money-making and their characteristic over-the-top vulgarity.

Halloween as we know it today is essentially an American creation - that’s where pumpkins originate. And yet it all started in Europe. There was an ancient Irish festival at this time of year called Samhain, the Old Irish for “summer’s end”. It was supposed to be the time when the boundary between this world and the world of the fairies was at its thinnest. The “Little People” were most likely to be about, and even after the coming of Christianity there was still a widespread feeling that it was wise to keep on the right side of them.

In Christian times, it was reinvented as All Hallows’ Eve and was still marked in Ireland, Scotland and the Isle of Man as it had been before. Mass migration from Ireland and Scotland in the 1800s brought the holiday to the United States - and the land of opportunity seized the money-making opportunity it offered.

It started with postcards and paper decorations in the 1900s. Halloween costumes began to appear in US shops in the 1930s and the custom of trick or treat emerged in the 1950s, before being exported across the Atlantic in the late 1980s. Now even the US president seems to have his own version, trick or tweet.

The American always do these things in a big way. In 2012 the Titanic Belfast visitor centre opened in my home town. It’s become incredibly successful - unlike the ship itself - and I always think it’s a bit of a shame that it took the city 100 years to get round to cashing in on its links to the doomed liner.

But imagine if it had been built in an American city. They would have been shouting about it for decades and its shops would be full of tacky mugs, T-shirts and key rings with the message: “Ever get that sinking feeling?”

Much of what we think of as American is actually European. Hamburgers came from Germany, pizza and coffee came from Italy, Winnie the Pooh and The Jungle Book were by English authors. They cross the Atlantic, are given an unmistakable American makeover - so that Winnie the Pooh has a New York accent - and are sold back to Europe.

I used to share a house with someone who had a deep dislike of trick or treat and resented having to buy sweets for children turning up on the doorstep. I argued that it was only once a year - and that in any case it was probably here to stay.

Because it would be hard to remove American influence from Britain. We could hardly close down McDonald’s or ban chewing gum, even if we wanted to.

Let’s just avoid their phenomenal crime rates, their TV evangelists and Donald Trump.