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

Magazine - Hallowe'en


Do the Preparation task first. Then go to Text and read the article (you can also listen to the audio while you read). Next go to Task and do the activity.

Audio icon Download audio 1.4MB (right click & save)


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’.


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.


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.


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.

Task 1

Before you read

We suggest you do the vocabulary activity below before you read or listen. Then read and/or listen to the article and do the task to check your comprehension.






Hello abdulbaset-homs,

Around October/November time in the UK the winter is approaching, which means the days get shorter and the nights get longer - in other words, 'it's getting dark earlier'.  In addition, of course, the temperature falls so this is why the text says 'it's starting to get cold'.  However, it is still a month or more to the happy time of Christmas, so Halloween provides some fun and celebration before that.

I hope that helps to clarify it for you.

Best wishes,



The LearnEnglish Team

i thougt its Literary expression .
however thanks for your answer .

I like the opinion ,,, but my country do not celebrate its ,, it is jus celebrate alfdr festival and alhaj festival

Hello, I'm from Spain so we don't celebrate Haloween but I would like to celebrate it, i think that it is a nice festival. 

I'm Ha, I come from Viet Nam. We don't have Hallowe'en day but we have Tet day.This is a traditional festival of us. We buy foods to prepare to party in new years, buy new clothes for children and give new money to wish lucky to children and old peoples. in the first day in new year, we go to join party together to wish lucky for everyone.

i would like to celebrate it..i often see such festivals on T.V....b here in mauritius it is not celebrated....there are some parties but children are not interested...all they do is connected with electronics...that is sad to see that this new generation is so different with the old one...they don't know what is fun with friends;i mean real friends not elctronic is such a pity.:(

The favorite festival in my country is Tet Festival or Vietnamese Lunar New Year. It takes place around 3 days of the Lunar New Year from 1st to 3rd January. People usually decorate the house, re-paint the wall, buy lot of new things, children often are bought new clothes, and given the lucky money. The young people wish the older people live longer. During the Tet, having a lot of folklore games such as chicken fight, sing the folklore song, visit the neighbor, play chess, .... A lot of foods are also given with especial tasted and beautiful,...
Welcome you visit to Vietnam.

I am from Ukraine. We don"t celebrate Halloween. But children who study English do.

my country syria and all arab counties do't celebrate hallowen
we celebrate muslem days

I'm from myanmar and this festival is not held widely in our country. Anyway it's interesting.