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Halloween. Customs and traditions

Halloween is a very important and sometimes controversial (causes public argument or disagreement) holiday in the USA.  Most people think Halloween is a fun time to put on costumes and have parties.  Costumes can be scary or funny, and the best costumes are not bought in a store – the best costumes are made at home.           

            Children and adults wear costumes, and while the adults are partying, the children go from house to house and ask for candy.  This is called Trick-or-Treating, because when the children go up to a house to ask for candy, they are supposed to shout “Trick or Treat!” 

             Another Halloween tradition is the Jack-o-lantern.  That tradition started in Ireland, where people would carve turnips (репа) into lanterns to scare away spirits.  In the USA now, pumpkins (тыква) are carved instead of turnips.  Then, people put these jack-o-lanterns on their porches with a candle inside.  Jack-o-lanterns are an important symbol of Halloween.              

       One more fun Halloween tradition is the haunted tour or haunted attraction.  This could be in an old house, or a factory, or a shopping mall, or even a maze made out of corn plants.  A real haunted house is a house that really has ghosts in it, but in haunted attractions,   actors dress up in very scary costumes and scare people walking around.  People pay money to come and be scared by the actors, but it is really very safe.  The actors are not allowed to touch people, and everyone knows that it is really just fake.  

                 Some religious people don't like Halloween, because Halloween started hundreds of years ago as a pagan (not Christian) holiday.  They say that people that wear costumes and carve jack-o-lanterns are actually celebrating the devil.  Not very many people say things like this – but they say it very loudly.  Most people in the USA only see Halloween as a time for fun and games, nothing else.

Discussion Questions

1.)    Do you think Halloween is more for adults or children?

2.)    If you could dress up in any costume, what would it be?

3.)    Do you think ghosts actually exist?  Have you ever seen one?

The author is Nathan Bowman, our teacher from America

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