Find out some more about the traditional festival of Hallowe'en.

Magazine - Hallowe'en

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Hallowe'en

Hallowe'en is a popular festival in many countries all over the world, and every year it seems to get bigger. It's getting dark earlier and it's starting to get cold. Christmas is still a long way away. We need something to cheer us up and take our minds off the fact that winter is nearly here. Find out some more about the traditional festival of Hallowe'en.

The origins of the name

The festival of Hallowe'en has its roots in Celtic and Roman traditions. Over 2,000 years ago the Celts in Britain, Ireland and parts of France celebrated Samhain to mark the beginning of winter. When the Romans invaded, they merged this with Feralia, their celebration of the passing of the dead. As Christianity spread, the Church tried to replace these pagan feasts with official Church holy days. One of these was November 1. It was called All Saints Day, or "All Hallows", and October 31 was known as "All Hallows' Eve", and then Hallowe'en.

Hallowe'en traditions

In the past there was a tradition called "souling". Poor people went around houses asking for food. In exchange, they promised to say prayers for the dead. People no longer go souling, but the habit has been transformed into a modern Hallowe'en game for children in America, who dress up as ghosts, witches and monsters and go around people's houses, asking for sweets. This game is called 'Trick or Treat’.

Witches

Hallowe'en wouldn't be fun without witches. Witches have always been part of popular folklore. Shakespeare's play "Macbeth" opens with three witches. A witch was someone - usually a woman - who had special powers and had dealings with the devil. The American town, Salem, in the state of Massachusetts, is famous for the "witchcraft trials", which took place there in 1692.

Pumpkins

The pumpkin has become a symbol of Hallowe'en. People empty a pumpkin, cut a face into the side, and put a candle inside to make a lamp. It's known as a Jack-o'-lantern, from an Irish legend about a man called Jack, who made a deal with the devil.

Animals

Black cats, frogs, mice and spiders are just some of the animals associated with Hallowe'en. Generally, the more unpleasant the animal, the stronger the Hallowe'en connection. Nocturnal animals like bats are particular favourites, and if, as is the case with vampire bats, they like drinking blood, they are high on the Hallowe'en list.

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Hello! I am from Romania. I think Halloween is a great festival for all the people.It is great for us because it is a reason to cheer us up. I had never been in a party Halloween . But this year I want go. In my country we celebrate Halloween in every year on 30 October.The people go in club , they wear scary clothes. In schools children also celebrate Halloween. They prepare pumkins in schools with teacher.Here in Romania pumkins are a symbol of Halloween. My favourite festival in my country is Easter. Thake you!

in my country (Afghanistan), we celebrate two Eids. Eidul fiter and Eidul Adha. each Eid is celebrating for 3 days.

We dont celebrate Halloween there in Kazakhstan,but our head class teacher teachs us english(I am not sure if I caklled it right and if there is such thing in english-speaking countries, but it is a teacher who takes care of us taking apart in events, and solves problems like fighting, bad abilities at some subjects,bahaviour issuies and other stuff), and she wants us to know more about USA and UK culture so we have a little class celebration and do presentations about such festivals as a Guy Fawckes Day, Cristmas etc

Halloween is interesting event that took place in ancient european countries.
In my country, Brazil, it's not celebrated, I think it's due our catholic colonization.
My favourite festival in my country is Christmas, people humor changes for better in this period, besides the commercial issues, there is a special atmosphere in these days.

Halloween is one of the joyful festival I think. Our country never celebrate it before. Water festival is the festival I like the most in my country.

That site is a good opportunity for me to learn more English.
About Halloween celebration it's a complete story with a lot of information whitch I didn't know.
In Portugal, Halloween is celebrated not long. Instead of this festival, we celebrate "All Saints Day in November 1rst with a "Magusto" of chestnuts and new wine. Then we dance folk musics and songs, a mixture of catholic and pagan traditions.

Hello There British Council
Firstly Thanks for providing such directive webpage for learning English language

I am interesting in this and all articles
In my country Kurdstan/Iraq there is a similar overnight Festival called ( Barat) near Eid of Sacrifice ) children are knocking doors asking for treat :)

Hello Koshar Ali,

We're glad you enjoyed this article! I just wanted to point out that there is a Word on the Street episode dedicated to Hallowe'en that you might also enjoy.

Best wishes,
Kirk
The LearnEnglish Team

I think Halloween, in Italy, the country where I live , is the biggest visible sign of the influence
anglo-saxon culture. New generation started learn English at kindergarten playing whit Halloween mask, and continue in primary school. So the carnival, period of time before cristian Lent, ending in Shrove Tuesday has been overtaked from Halloween.
Please excuse me for every mistake in writing and grammar. It's just my second comment.

I think the halloween festival is wonderfull. it's an occasion for every people to make up to doctor, actor, ....person they like.

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