History Lesson



Read the text.

Halloween History

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 years 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 days.

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 all Romans.

3. Halloween began with the Celtic people.

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 one god.

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 a week.

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.



Read the text



Did you ever wonder how certain customs and superstitions got started? Here are the roots of some Halloween beliefs and activities.

COSTUMES. 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.

JACK-O-LANTERNS. 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. Many Halloween 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 didnt 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 night.

           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

2. stingy

3. to wander

4. to dress up

5. lantern

6. thimble

a) to move about without a destination or purpose

b) to make a careful examination of something in order to find a missing person or thing; to examine carefully

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 persons 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 neck-

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 its- Halloween!


Ex.1.These 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.



Ex. 2.Choose 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 that...

a)...burning 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 witches away.

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 the dead.

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 country.

b)...very popular in the country.

c)...a harvest festival.



Ex.3. Choose the answers that could best replace the underlined words and phrases in the text without changing the meaning of the sentence.


is celebrated - a) is observed; b) is memorized; c) is honored;


looked upon - a) believed; b) considered; c) talked;


paraded - a) walked; b) marched; c) rode cars;


to drive - 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;


fun - a) a joke; b) laughter;r c) enjoyment;


huddled - a) got together; b) crowded because of cold; c) met;


pranks - a) harmless jokes; b) tricks; c) tricks that make someone look foolish



Ex. 4. Heres 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?

a) 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&Ms


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?

a) Canada                   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?

a) apple                       b) pumpkin                  c) orange


9. Which of the following costumes does not rank as one of the top 10 favorites for Halloween?

a) witch                       b) skeleton                   c) bride


10. What actress starred in several Halloween horror films?

a) Elvira                       b) Jamie Lee Curtis                  c) Kirstie Alley?






Out of the graveyard

Filled with stones,

No hair or skin,

Im nothing but bones.

What am I?


My hat is black,

My face is green,

My laugh is mean.

I ride a broom

On Halloween.

Who am I?


My door is gone.

My windows cracked.

Ghosts float through walls

And then float back.

You hear strange noises:

Bam, bang, and whack!


 I fly at night,

I hunt by sound,

I live in a cave,

And sleep upside down.

People are scared,

They shouldnt be.

I eat mice and bugs.

Please, dont hurt me.

My eyes are gold,

My fur is black,

I hiss and spit,

And arch my back.

My claws are sharp.

I might attack!



I 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 sun away.

The stars come out to dance and play.

Im at the end of another day.




Answers to the quiz:

1)a;  2) c; 3)a;  4)c;  5)b;  6)b;  7)a;  8)b;   9)a;   10) b;