Read the text.
Halloween began more than
2,000 years ago among the Celtic people of Britain and France. As the days
became shorter and cooler every autumn, the Celts made up a story to explain
why winter came and all the crops and flowers died.
The Celts believed in a sun
god who made the crops grow. But each year the sun god was attacked and held
prisoner for six months by an evil power called Samhain, who was also known
as the “Lord of the Dead” and the “Prince of Darkness”. He brought the cold
and darkness of winter days.
On October 31, Celtic
priests (called Druids) held a new year’s ceremony to mark the weakening of
the sun god and the triumph of Samhain. Bonfires were lit on hilltops.
Sometimes the druids would hurl animals or prisoners into the fire to please
the cruel Samhain. The fire was hot and strong like the sun, and Druids felt
sure that evil spirits would fear the fire.
The Celtic people thought
that those spirits were everywhere, and they started fires in their homes to
keep the evil spirits from coming inside. They believed that Samhain called
dread people together and turned them into other forms, especially cats.
To keep Samhain happy and to
keep the evil spirits away, the Celts would put on frightening costumes made
of animal skins and had a kind of festival which sometimes lasted three
When the Romans conquered
Britain and France, the Catholic Church contributed the name “Halloween” to
all the traditions. The first of November is the Catholic holiday of “All
Saints’ Day,” which honors all saints who died for their faith. The night
before this day - the 31-st of October - was called “All Hallow Eve.”
Eventually this name became shortened to “Halloween.”
Ex.1. The Following
Statements Are Either True Or False.
1. Halloween dates back more
than 2,000 years.
2. “All Saints’ Day” honors
3. Halloween began with the
4. Halloween started in the
countries now called France and Britain.
5. Long long ago the Celts
worshipped a sun god.
6. The Celts had more than
7. The Celts loved winter.
8. They made up a story to
explain why winter came.
9. The reason for Samhain
Festival was the change of seasons.
10. This Festival would last
11. The Celts were afraid of
the cold and dark.
12. According to the Druids,
Samhain ruled winter.
13. The Celts lit huge
bonfires on the hilltops to warm themselves.
14. All those Celtic
traditions were named “Halloween” by the Romans.
HALLOWEEN CUSTOMS AND SUPERSTITIONS
Did you ever wonder how
certain customs and superstitions got started? Here are the roots of some
Halloween beliefs and activities.
A long time ago, people feared evil spirits - especially on Halloween. By
putting on costumes and masks, they hoped the evil spirits would leave them
alone. Sometimes, in fact, a person was chosen to dress up and - like the
Pied Piper - lead the ghosts and spirits out of town.
An old Irish legend tells of a stingy man named Jack who was ordered to
wander the Earth after he died, searching for a resting peace. Because of
all his bad deeds, Jack was forbidden to enter heaven.
When the devil gave Jack a
piece of burning coal, Jack stuffed it into a turnip, making a lantern to
help light his way. Irish children used to carve smiling faces on turnips.
When Irish people moved to
the USA, they brought their beliefs with them. But instead of turnips, Irish
children in America carved pumpkins. When they put a candle inside, they
remembered the story of bad old Jack and the lantern. The carved pumpkin
became a jack-o-lantern.
superstitions started because people wanted to know what would happen to
them in the future.
• Girls would
throw a nut into the fire to find out if their boyfriends still loved them.
If the nut burned, their boyfriends still loved them. But if the nut burst,
the boyfriends didn’t care any more.
• If a cat sat
next to you on Halloween, you would have good fortune. If the cat jumped on
your lap, you would enjoy fantastic luck.
• You could make
a wish come true by eating a crust of bread before going to bed on Halloween
• A person would
throw a stone into a fire to find out whether he could expect to live much
longer. If the stone rolled away from the fire, the person would soon die.
• The Irish
would cook up a dish in which they placed a ring, a thimble, a tiny doll,
and a coin. If you got the ring, you would be married within a year. If you
got the thimble, you would never marry. If you found the doll in your
serving, you would have children. And if you received the coin, great wealth
would soon come to you.
Ex.1. In the left column
there are some words and phrases from the text. In the right one there are
their definitions. Can you match the left and the right columns?
1. to search
3. to wander
4. to dress up
a) to move about without a destination
b) to make a careful examination of
something in order to find a missing person or thing; to examine
c) unwilling to give or spend money
d) a small cup usually of metal or
plastic worn to protect the finger that pushes the needle in sewing
e) to wear formal or fancy clothes; to
wear another person’s clothes for fun
f) a portable case or container that
protects a light from the weather
Read the text.
Today, Halloween is
celebrated in the United States more than in Europe. But long before
American children started trick-or-treating, people in Scotland, England,
and France looked upon October 31 as a day of ghosts and goblins.
In Scotland, people
paraded through fields and villages with burning torches on October 31.
They thought the fire would protect them from witches and ghosts. Bonfires
blazed on hilltops to scare away evil spirits, and families tried to outdo
one another with the largest and brightest bonfires. When the fire burned
out and the last spark disappeared, these early Scots would run away yelling
that the devil would catch the slowest one.
The English marched
through streets carrying lighted candles to drive away witches. The
English dreaded witches. If the candles burned until midnight, people
felt they were safe.
In France, a man would
walk through the streets on October 31, ringing a bell and warning that
spirits were coming. Lanterns placed in tall stone buildings were
supposed to frighten evil spirits. But sometimes, these early French
people would set a plate of hot, steaming pancakes and a cup of cider on the
grave to welcome the dead.
When the people from
Europe came to settle in the New World, they brought their Halloween
beliefs with them. To many American colonists witches and devils seemed very
real, and Halloween was not a night of fun.
As pioneers moved west,
they celebrated Halloween with corn-popping parties and hay rides.*
Farmers called these celebrations Nut Crack or Snap Apple Night. Families
huddled in front of fires to roast nuts, tell ghost stories, and play
games. Sometimes Halloween was celebrated as a harvest festival, with people
gathering together to have parties.
When the Irish came to the
United States, Halloween became very popular in this country. Children
started playing pranks on October 31, blaming the pranks on evil
goblins. Ever since, Halloween in the United States has been a night filled
with creepy sounds and spooky creatures.
* hay rides -
A ride taken for pleasure
in a wagon partly filled with hay.
Enjoy the poem.
What Night Would It Be?
If the moon shines
On the black pines,
And an owl flies,
And a ghost cries,
And the hairs rise
on the back
on the back
on the back of your
If you look quick
At the moon-slick
On the black air
And what goes there
Rides a broom-stick,
And if things pick
at the back
at the back, at the back
of your neck
You know what I mean-
That it’s- Halloween!
words and expressions may be new for you. Can you translate them from English
into Russian and use them in your own sentences?
A torch, a bonfire, to
blaze, to scare away, a spirit, to outdo, a spark, to yell, to dread, to warn,
cider, a grave, hay, to huddle, to roast, a prank, to blame, creepy, a spook,
to play pranks on somebody.
the alternative that best completes the sentence.
1. Long before American
children started trick-or-treating, ...
a)...the Scots, English and
French had the same tradition.
b)...the 31 of October was
the day of ghosts and goblins for the Scots, English and French.
c)...some Europeans knew how
to make a lantern.
2. Early Scots believed
torches and bonfires would protect them from witches.
b)...if they ran away
yelling the devil would be scared to death.
c)...evil spirits wanted to
make friends with them.
3. The English marched
through streets carrying...
a)...bonfires to scare
b)...lighted candles to
drive away witches.
c)...bunches of flowers.
4. Sometimes early French
people would set a plate of hot pancakes and a cup of cider.
a)...in the window inviting
all spirits to the house.
b)...on the grave to welcome
c)...on the table to
celebrate a harvest festival.
5. To many American
colonists witches and devils...
a)...were not scary.
b)...seemed not very real,
and Halloween was a night of fun.
c)...seemed very real, and
Halloween was not a night of fun.
6. When the Irish came to
the USA, Halloween became...
a)...less popular in the
b)...very popular in the
c)...a harvest festival.
Choose the answers that could best replace the underlined words and phrases in
the text without changing the meaning of the sentence.
- a) is observed; b) is memorized; c) is honored;
- a) believed; b) considered; c) talked;
- a) walked; b) marched; c) rode cars;
- a) to go; b) to lead; c) to force;
dreaded witches -
a) thought of witches with fear; b) told stories bout
witches; c) talked about witches;
were supposed -
a) were told; b) were taken; c) were intended;
to settle -
a) to decide; b) to establish residence; c) to examine;
a) a joke; b) laughter;r c) enjoyment;
a) got together; b) crowded because of cold; c) met;
a) harmless jokes; b) tricks; c) tricks that make someone
Here’s a Halloween quiz to put a smile on your pumpkin.
This fun Halloween quiz is
about the holiday that sends shivers up your spine. To see how well you did,
check the answers at the bottom of the page.
1. Who started Halloween?
a) The Celts
b) the Druids c) the Britons
2. Americans began to
celebrate Halloween in the 1840 when immigrants brought the custom over with
them. What country were they from?
France b) Romania c) Ireland
3. The largest Halloween
parade in the US is held in
a) New York b)
San Francisco c) New Orleans
4. The most popular
chocolate candy sold during the Halloween season is
a) Almond Joy
b) Milky Way c) M&M’s
5. The animal that best
symbolizes the holiday is the
a) owl b) black
cat c) werewolf
6. Which of the following
countries does not celebrate Halloween?
b) Italy c) Great Britain
7. The colors traditionally
associated with the holiday are
a) orange & black
b )brown &yellow c) purple &green
8. Halloween is also a
harvest celebration. Name the fruit that best symbolizes the season?
apple b) pumpkin c) orange
9. Which of the following
costumes does not rank as one of the top 10 favorites for Halloween?
witch b) skeleton c) bride
10. What actress starred in
several Halloween horror films?
b) Jamie Lee Curtis c) Kirstie Alley?
of the graveyard
Filled with stones,
No hair or skin,
I’m nothing but bones.
What am I?
hat is black,
My face is green,
My laugh is mean.
I ride a broom
Who am I?
door is gone.
My windows cracked.
Ghosts float through
And then float back.
You hear strange noises:
Bam, bang, and whack!
fly at night,
I hunt by sound,
I live in a cave,
And sleep upside down.
People are scared,
They shouldn’t be.
I eat mice and bugs.
Please, don’t hurt me.
eyes are gold,
My fur is black,
I hiss and spit,
And arch my back.
My claws are sharp.
I might attack!
like to stay
Just out of sight.
If you see me,
I might be white.
I float through houses
In the black of night...
I grew on a vine,
Right on the ground.
I have a big smile,
My face is round.
The shadows chase the
The stars come out to
dance and play.
I’m at the end of
Answers to the quiz: