Halloween is one of the oldest holidays with origins going back thousands of years. The holiday has had many influences from many cultures over the centuries. From the Roman's Pomona Day, to the Celtic festival of Samhain, to the Christian holidays of All Saints and All Souls Days.
Hundreds of years ago in what is now Great Britain and Northern France, lived the Celts (凯尔特人), who worshipped (崇拜) nature and had many gods, with the sun god as their favorite. They celebrated their New Year on November 1st which was made every year with a festival and marked the end of the "season of the sun" and the beginning of "the season of darkness and cold."
On October 31st after the crops were all harvested and stored for the long winter the cooking fires in the homes would be extinguished (消失). The Druids, the Celtic priests, would meet in the hilltop in the dark oak forest (oak trees were considered sacred). They would light new fires and offer sacrifices of crops and animals.
As they danced around the fires, the season of the sun passed and the season of darkness would begin.
When the morning arrived the Druids would give an ember from their fires to each family who would then take them home to start new cooking fires. These fires would keep the homes warm and free from evil spirits.
The November 1st festival was called Samhain (pronounced "sow-en"). The festival would last for 3 days. Many people would parade in costumes made from the skins and heads of their animals. This festival would become the first Halloween.
The Celtics would carry a lantern (灯笼) when they walked on the eve of October 31. These lanterns were carved out of big turnips (大头菜) and the lights were believed to keep the evil spirits away. Children would carve faces in the turnips. These carved turnips were called "jack-o-lanterns.
It is said that the "jack-o-lantern" got its name from a stingy (吝啬的) and mean old man, named Jack, who when he died was too mean to get into heaven. When Jack went to hell he was meet by the Devil who gave him a piece of burning coal and sent him away. Jack placed the burning coal in a turnip to use as a lantern to light his way.
The legends claim that Jack is still walking with the lantern looking for a place to stay.
When the early settlers came to America they found the big round orange pumpkin. Being larger and much more colorful than turnips, the pumpkin made great "jack-o-lanterns". Eventually the pumpkin would replace the turnip. Eventually the Pumpkin would become the most widely recognized symbol(象征)of the Halloween holiday.
The history of "Trick'O'Treating" can be traced back (追溯) to the early celebrations of All Soul's Day in Britain. The poor would go begging and the housewives would give them special treats called "soulcakes". This was called "going a-souling", and the "soulers" would promise to say a prayer for the dead.
Over time the custom changed and the town's children became the beggars. As they went from house to house they would be given apples, buns (圆形的小甜面包), and money. During the Pioneer days of the American West, the housewives would give the children candy to keep from being tricked. The children would shout "Trick or Treat!".
Pumpkins are on salein shops and supermarkets from as early as the beginning of October. By the last week of October you can see pumpkin lanterns everywhere in shop windows and in people's houses.
Although British people used to use potatoes and turnips, now they use pumpkins to make Jack-o-lanterns unique to the Halloween season.
The name“Jack-o-lantern"comes from an Irish folktale about a man named Stingy Jack who, because of his bad nature, was doomed to roam the earth without a resting place and with only his lit lantern to light the way in the darkness.
Trick or treating
Children love this game! They dress up and then knock on the doors of people's houses in their neighbourhood asking for a ‘trick or treat’.
The neighbour gives them chocolates, sweets or money as a ‘treat’. If there is no treat, the children play a trick on the neighbour, for example, they might throw soap at the window.
It only happens once a year so even the stingiest adultsmightgive something to the kids as a treat!
Across the UK, people throw parties to celebrate Halloween. The biggest Halloween party has to be in Sheffield at the end of October.
A lot of people go there to experience Fright Night. Can you image a party with about 40,000 people?
There are activities for people of all ages: fancy dress catwalk, urban dance, a monster in a fountain and a zombie garden, as well as the traditional apple bobbing and a competition for the best pumpkin lantern.
This is a fun and competitive game which is very traditional. What you do is to place lots of apples in a large tub or a bowl of water - not too cold or too hot.
This is because the participants or competitors have to take a bite from one of the apples without using their hands.
Sometimes the participants are blindfolded, just to make it even more challenging and fun.