It’s October the 31st, and across Britain and the USA,
thousands of children are dressing up as monsters, ghosts
and witches and going to their neighbours’ houses to ask for
sweets or to play tricks on them if they refuse.
Many houses have lanterns made from pumpkins in
their windows. These lanterns have frightening faces cut into them.
What is the reason for all of this? It’s Halloween! To an
outsider, this may seem a strange festival, but it is a very popular one
and an important part of the culture in Britain and the USA. But how did it
The holiday once had a religious
significance. November the 1st is All Saint’s Day, and October the 31st was
believed to be a day when all the spirits came back to the world of the
living. In modern times, this has changed to be a day when children dress up as
monsters, ghosts and witches.
Once they are dressed up children go to their neighbours’
houses. They knock on the door and shout ‘Trick or treat!’ Good
neighbours, of course, give ‘treats’. These are usually sweets or chocolates.
Bad neighbours, however, may give nothing. If so, then the
children play a ‘trick’ on them. This may be a simple practical joke.
However, naughty children may do something worse, like throwing
rubbish in the neighbour’s garden. Nowadays, of course, most neighbours
always give a treat. After all, it’s fun for the children.
Another tradition is to make lanterns from pumpkins. First,
the inside of the pumpkin is removed. Then, a face is cut into the pumpkin,
traditionally a smiling, devil face. Finally a candle is placed inside,
and the lantern is put at the front of the house to keep evil spirits
There are many traditional games on Halloween, but the most
common is ‘apple-bobbing’. It’s simple to play. Several apples are put
floating in water. Children then have their hands tied behind
their backs. They then have to try to pick the apples out of the water using
only their mouths. Of course, people get very wet and it is very funny to watch.