Your job for today is to find out all about Halloween. Please use the texts below as starting point and use the links given. Please answer the following questions in an written essay:  
1. Where does the name Halloween come from?
2. What are the traditional origins of Halloween?
3. When is Halloween and who celebrates it?
4. What special activities are done on Halloween?
5. Do you think that Halloween should be celebrated in Germany, too?

Maximum: 2 pages - copy pictures into the text but use your own words!  >

Holidays.net  Halloween Magazine

History of Halloween    halloween.com




                     A "jack'o'lantern" is a carved out pumpkin like this:














The Legend of Jack-O'-Lantern (from: teacherlink.ed.usu.edu)

The Irish brought Jack-O'-Lantern to America. Jack was a legendary, stingy drunkard. He tricked the Devil into climbing an apple tree for a juicy apple and then quickly cut the sign of the cross into the tree trunk, preventing the Devil from coming down. Jack made the Devil swear that he wouldn't come after his soul in any way. The Devil promised. However, this did not prevent Jack from dying.

When he arrived at the gates of heaven, he was turned away because he was a stingy, mean drunk. Desperate for a resting place, he went to the Devil. The Devil, true to his word, turned him away. "But where can I go?" pleaded Jack. "Back where you come from," spoke the Devil. The night was dark and the way was long, and the Devil tossed him a lighted coal from the fire of Hell. Jack, who was eating a turnip at the time, placed the coal inside and used it to light his way. Since that day, he has traveled the world over with his Jack-O'-Lantern in search of a place to rest.

Irish children carved out turnips and potatoes to light the night on Halloween. When the Irish came to America in great numbers in the 1840s, they found that a pumpkin made an even better lantern, and so this "American" tradition came to be.



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The Origins of Halloween Traditions

     There are many superstitions and symbols connected with the festival of Halloween, celebrated on October 31. The name "Halloween" means "hallowed evening" since it takes place before All Saints' Day. Halloween traditions originate from many countries and have been modified by different cultures over time.

    The Irish have a story about the origin of jack-o-lanterns. A man named Jack could not enter heaven because he was a miser and a drunkard, and he was unable to enter hell because he had played practical jokes on the devil. Therefore, he was left to walk the earth until Judgment Day (Jüngstes Gericht) with his lantern which was a hot coal placed in a hollowed-out turnip. (more further down)

     The use of witches, ghosts, and cats in Halloween celebrations originates with the Druids. The Druids were an order of priests in ancient Gaul and Britain who believed that ghosts, spirits, fairies, witches, and elves came out on Halloween to harm people. They thought that cats had once been human beings, but were changed as punishment for their evil deeds.

     The Druids also took part in an autumn festival called "Samhain" or "summers end". It was a celebration of the food which had been grown during the summer. The tradition of decorating with pumpkins, leaves, and cornstalks originates with this Druid festival.

     In ancient days, celtic priestesses travelled about the countryside, chanting to frighten away the evil spirits which were thought to be free to roam the earth only once a year on Halloween night. Therefore, this is believed to be the origin of the Halloween parade.

 Trick or treating had its origins in the practice of "souling", where people visited homes and offered prayers for the dead in return for gifts of food.

Ancient Origins of Halloween (from historychannel.com, shortened)

Halloween's origins date back to the ancient Celtic festival of Samhain.

The Celts, who lived 2,000 years ago in the area that is now Ireland, the United Kingdom, and northern France, celebrated their new year on November 1. This day marked the end of summer and the harvest and the beginning of the dark, cold winter, a time of year that was often associated with human death. Celts believed that on the night before the new year, the boundary between the worlds of the living and the dead became blurred. On the night of October 31, they celebrated Samhain, when it was believed that the ghosts of the dead returned to earth. In addition to causing trouble and damaging crops, Celts thought that the presence of the otherworldly spirits made it easier for the Druids, or Celtic priests, to make predictions about the future.

To commemorate the event, Druids built huge sacred bonfires, where the people gathered to burn crops and animals as sacrifices to the Celtic deities (Gottheiten).

During the celebration, the Celts wore costumes, typically consisting of animal heads and skins, and attempted to tell each other's fortunes. When the celebration was over, they re-lit their hearth fires, which they had extinguished earlier that evening, from the sacred bonfire to help protect them during the coming winter.

By A.D. 43, Romans had conquered the majority of Celtic territory. In the course of the four hundred years that they ruled the Celtic lands, two festivals of Roman origin were combined with the traditional Celtic celebration of Samhain. The first was Feralia, a day in late October when the Romans traditionally commemorated the passing of the dead. The second was a day to honor Pomona, the Roman goddess of fruit and trees. The symbol of Pomona is the apple and the incorporation of this celebration into Samhain probably explains the tradition of "bobbing" (The game is played by filling a tub (Badewanne) with water and putting apples in the water. Because apples are less dense than water, they will float at the surface. The children then try to catch one with their teeth)..

By the 800s, the influence of Christianity had spread into Celtic lands. In the seventh century, Pope Boniface IV designated November 1 All Saints' Day, a time to honor saints and martyrs. It is widely believed today that the pope was attempting to replace the Celtic festival of the dead with a related holiday. The celebration was also called All-hallowmas (meaning All Saints' Day) and the night before it, the night of Samhain, began to be called All-hallows Eve and, eventually, Halloween. Even later, in A.D. 1000, the church would make November 2 All Souls' Day, a day to honor the dead. It was celebrated similarly to Samhain, with big bonfires, parades, and dressing up in costumes as saints, angels, and devils. Together, the three celebrations, the eve of All Saints', All Saints', and All Souls', were called Hallowmas.

source: Pumpkin Farm (1993) and others
background-image: CC0 pixabay/QuinceCreative