Halloween - Reading worksheet (Level B1)
On the night from October 31st to November 1st it will be "scary" again. Ghosts will be roaming the streets, houses will be gruesomely decorated and pumpkin grimaces will be shining everywhere. But why are we celebrating Halloween and why are we dressing up so scarily?
The name of Halloween comes from the Catholic "All Saints" feast. It has been observed for many years on November 1st. In English, the festival is called "All Hallows" and the evening before, i.e. the 31st of October, is called "All Hallows Evening". The abbreviation for this is Halloween.
Halloween is very popular in the USA. Both children and adults dress up, go from door to door to get sweets or play tricks. In America, this custom is called Trick or Treat. In Germany, for example, the children say “Sweets, otherwise it's sour". If the house residents do not have any sweets on hand, it can happen that the children play little pranks on them. The houses, especially in the US, are decorated very elaborately and "scarily" and everywhere you can see scarily glowing pumpkins.
The festival is originally from Europe when the Celts celebrated "Samhain" festival. The celebration marks the end of summer and the beginning of winter - the dark season. The Celts, who lived in Ireland and Scotland many centuries ago, believed that the spirits of the dead and other supernatural beings visited our world during this time.
Fearing death was particularly sensible on that night, the Celts disguised themselves to look as scary as possible to make them think they had already died. This way they wanted to trick Death so it would not take them out. Supposedly, people have placed small gifts in front of their homes to appease the spirits that were "visiting" them that night.
One of the most popular Halloween treats is making a Jack-O Lantern. That's what we call the hollowed out pumpkins decorated with scary grimaces. According to an Irish legend, Jack O was, rather a scoundrel. When the devil tried to get Jack O with him, he outsmarted him to cheat on eternal life. The older Jack became, the more eager he wished to find eternal rest. But both the paradise and hell did not want to take him for his cheating actions. The devil gave him a piece of glowing coal from the Hellfire, which Jack put in a hollowed turnip. With the turnip lantern Jack wandered through the darkness. Today, big squashes are used instead of turnips. The bright pumpkin grimaces drive away the evil spirits and therefore look so scary.