The history of Halloween
pagans who lived in Britain two thousand years ago celebrated their New Year on 1 November. Then the Christians came and people
celebrated 'Hallowmas', a three-day festival between 31 October and 2 November. 31 October was called All Hallow's Eve, and
slowly the name changed to Halloween (Am.).
is a contracted corruption of All Hallows Eve, "All Hollows Day" (or "All Saints Day").Catholic day, in honor of saints.
November, winter is near, and hundreds of years ago people believed that bad spirits, like ghosts, came in the winter. They
wanted the bad spirits to go away, so they made fires outside and used big autumn fruit or vegetables to make jack o'lanterns.
The Celts believed all laws of space and time were suspended during this time, allowing the spirit world to intermingle with
the living. The name 'Jack o' lantern' means 'Jack of the lantern'. Some people think Jack was a nightwatchman who had one
of these lights.
Jack o'lantern custom probably comes from Irish folklore. As the tale is told, a man named Jack was a drunkard and trickster.
The tale says he tricked Satan climbing a tree. Jack then carved an image of a cross in the tree's trunk, trapping the devil
up the tree. The devil had to make a deal with Jack to get rid of the trap.
was: If the devil would never tempt him again, he would promise to let him down the tree. According to the folk tale, after
death, Jack was denied entrance to Heaven because he had made a deal with the devil, but when he went to hell he was also
denied access because he had tricked the devil. The devil gave him a single ember to light his way through the frigid darkness
instead. The ember was placed inside a hollowed-out turnip to keep it glowing longer. The Irish used turnips as their "Jack
o'lanterns" originally. But when the immigrants came to America, they found that pumpkins were far more plentiful than turnips.
So the Jack o' lantern in America was a hollowed-out pumpkin, lit with an ember. Another thing people did, to make the bad
spirits go away, was to dress like witches and ghosts. Children still do this if they go to Halloween parties. People often
put up decorations for Halloween parties, and play games. The decorations are usually black (dark nights and death) and orange
To make a jack o'lantern, people cut a hole in a pumpkin. Then they put a candle in the hole,
and cut a face in the side so the light was easy to see.
Trick or treat?
In the US and Canada children dress like witches and ghosts and always go 'trick or treating'
in small groups to the houses around where they live. In Britain sometimes they do too. 'Trick or treat?' That's what they
say when somebody answers the door. That means that the person in the house must take a decision. Either they give the children
a treat like chocolate, candies or fruit or the children will play a trick on them like throwing eggs or something like that
at the house.