Tuesday, 30 October 2007

Is Halloween harmful?


Is Halloween harmful?

Pre-reading activity 1

  1. How much do you know about Halloween?
  2. Is Halloween celebrated in your country?
  3. Some say that Halloween encourages an interest in the supernatural and devil-worship. Do you think that Halloween is harmful/harmless?
  4. Do you believe in ghosts and witches? Why? Why not?
  • Read the text below to find answers to some of the questions above.

Halloween, which is celebrated in many Christian countries on 31st October every year, originated in the 8th century AD. "Halloween" means "the evening before the day of the Holy Saints" or "All Hallows Eve". This is because the day after Halloween is 1st November, the day on which the Christian church remembers all the saints in particular and all the dead in general. It is known as "All Saints Day" or "All Souls Day". In many Christian countries this is the day on which people visit the graves and other resting places of deceased family members to remember and honour the dead.

At this time of year, during the Middle Ages, Christians would celebrate the saints' sacrifices, resolve and eventual triumph over the forces of evil, often acting out these stories with the use of costumes and masks to increase their impact on the audience. The timeless influence of such costumes and masks can be seen today in children's fancy dress costumes, masks, and face-painting.


Halloween in particular has become very commercialised and in October every year shops in western Europe and North America at least fill with glow-in-the-dark pumpkins, skeleton and witches costumes, fangs and flashing red devil's horns. However the fact that Halloween has become so commercialised need not detract from its original significance as a valid pagan, then Christian, festival.

Post-reading activity 2

  • Match the following Halloween words/phrases to the definitions below.

1. broomstick

a. A big, orange vegetable which is hollowed out and made to look like a face.

2. skeleton

b. When children go from door to door in fancy dress, asking for sweets.

3. trick or treat

c. A woman who wears a black, pointed hat and usually has a black cat. She

mixes her potions in a cauldron and casts spells on people.

4. ghost

d. This is the means of transport used by witches.

5. witch

e. Another word for this is ‘phantom’.

6. scary

f. This is a word for ‘bones’. The head bone is called the ‘skull’.

7. pumkin

g. Another word for this is ‘frightening’ or ‘spooky’.

Talking Point Homework, EnglishClub.com

© Liz Regan 2004