Halloween Traditions

Helloween TraditionsHalloween is thought to have originated with the ancient Celtic festival of Samhain, when people would light bonfires and wear costumes to ward off roaming ghosts1. In the eighth century, Pope Gregory III designated November 1 as a time to honor all saints and martyrs; and the holiday of 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 has evolved into a secular2, community-based event characterized by child-friendly activities such as trick-or-treating.

Where is the celebration of Halloween thought to have come from?

  1. What costumes are usually worn on Halloween?
  2. What did the Celts re-light to help protect them from the coming winter?
  3. After many changes due to the spread of Christianity, what new celebration was created in 1000 AD?
  4. What were the similarities between this day and ’Samhain’?
  5. What was the night before called and what did this finally become?

Do you know anything about the history of Halloween?
Are there any celebrations in your country that have a strange and uncertain history?
Do you agree with this type of celebration?
Do you believe in ghosts and the supernatural?

Popular Halloween traditions
Jack O’ Lantern
Read the introductory paragraph taken from http://www.history.com/topics/jack-olantern-history and then describe the Jack O’ Lantern tradition to your classmates.
Then, read the full article entitled ’The Legend of Stingy Jack’. Look for the answers to the following questions. Share your answers with your classmates.

  1. The Jack O’ Lantern tradition originated from which Irish myth?
  2. What did Jack do with the coin instead? Why?
  3. Under what condition did Jack free the devil?
  4. What trick did Jack play the following year and how did he prevent the devil from coming down from the tree? 
  5. What happened soon after? 
  6. What problem did Jack then face?
  7. What did the Irish call Jack’s ghost?
  8. What did the Irish then begin to make and place in their windows and doorways and why?

Bobbing for Apples
Read the first paragraph of this website link about the rules of apple-bobbing: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Apple_bobbing.
Answer the following questions and share your answers with your classmates.

  1. How is the game played?
  2. Why are apples used?
  3. What do players use to catch the apples? 
  4. What parts of your body are you prevented from using?

Read the first paragraph of this website link about the tradition of ’trick-or-treating’: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Trick-or-treating and answer the following questions, sharing your answers with your classmates.

  1. What do children ask for when they go trick-or treating?
  2. What is usually the ’trick’?
  3. Since when has this tradition been practised in North America?
  4. What do homeowners who wish to participate usually do to their houses?

Would you go trick-or-treating? If yes, what costume would you choose?
How do you think people from your country would respond to trick-or-treaters?
Discuss how your country celebrates Halloween.

SLOVNIK 1zahnať blúdiace duše; 2svetský;
from various sources: Janka Něničkiová