All About Halloween

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Liz Waid and Bruce Gulland look at Halloween, a popular holiday in North America. People celebrate similar holidays in many other countries as well.

Voice 1  

Welcome to Spotlight. I’m Liz Waid.

Voice 2  

And I’m Bruce Gulland. Spotlight uses a special English method of broadcasting. It is easier for people to understand, no matter where in the world they live.

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Do you like hearing scary stories? See our program Telling Scary Stories.

Voice 1  

Every October 31st children all across the United States do something strange. They imagine they are someone or something else. They put on strange clothes. They may even paint their faces or wear false hair. They walk around from house to house. They knock on the door of the house. When someone opens the door all the children say the same thing:

Trick or treat!

a child dressed as batman
Image by April Bryant from Pixabay
Voice 2  

The person in the house gives them a sweet candy treat! The children do this again and again for one house to the next. This is the holiday of Halloween. Today’s Spotlight is on Halloween – and other holidays like it.

Voice 1  

The tradition of Halloween is very old. In fact, people who study history believe that Halloween traditions began as long as 2,500 years ago. They believe these traditions started in ancient Ireland, with the Celtic people.

Voice 2  

The Celts of Ireland counted two parts of the year. The bright half of the year was summer. And the dark half was winter. They believed that the bright half of the year ended around October 31. After this day, winter was coming. The Celtic people called this change in season Samhain, which means the ‘end of summer.’

Voice 1  

Samhain was a special time. It was both a celebration of the end of summer, or life, and the beginning of winter, or death. So it was also a frightening time. The Celts believed that there was a natural barrier between the world of the living and the world of the dead. But, at Samhain, the barrier disappeared. They believed that spirits could rise from the dead and come among the living.

Voice 2  

Historians say that during the celebration of Samhain the Celts dressed themselves in different clothes. They walked through their villages making lots of noise. And they caused disorder in the village. They believed that this frightened the spirits away. Some historians also believe that the Celts sacrificed humans or animals during this celebration as a warning to the spirits.

Voice 1  

Other people groups in other parts of the world also celebrated similar holidays. Around the year 400, Christians came to Ireland. They began to celebrate Christian holidays at the same time the Celts celebrated their holidays.

Voice 2  

For many years the Christians had a celebration in honour of saints – special people in the Church. They called this celebration ‘All Saints Day,’ or ‘All Hallows Day.’ It was a day to celebrate these special saints, or ‘holy,’ people. They celebrated ‘All Hallows Day’ on November 1st.

Voice 1

The night before a special day is called an “eve”. After a time, people began calling the Samhain celebration ‘All Hallows Eve.’ Since language is always changing, people soon shortened the name. Instead of ‘All Hallows Eve’, they called it ‘Halloween’, and that is what we call it today!

Voice 2  

In the 16th century, another tradition began. In the days leading up to the Samhain celebration, the people of Ireland and Britain dressed in different clothes. They went house to house. At each house, they sang songs to the dead. Then the people of the house gave them small sweet cakes.

vintage halloween kids
Image by Oberholster Venita from Pixabay
Voice 1  

Irish settlers brought Halloween traditions to the United States in the middle 1800’s. But people there did not really celebrate Halloween until almost 100 years later – during the early 1900’s. For most children today in the US, Canada, the UK and other places, Halloween is about candy and fun clothes. But other people have a day like this to celebrate the people who have lived and died before us.

Voice 2  

Many countries have a celebration to remember people who have died. Some celebrations are at different times of the year. They do not always call these celebrations ‘Halloween’. But the celebrations have similar meanings. So, how do you celebrate Halloween?

Voice 1  

On Halloween in Belgium, there are parades and scary decorations like spiders and ghosts. But people also light candles. These candles help people remember their dead relatives.

Voice 2  

In the Czech Republic they celebrate Dusicky. People visit the place where a family member is buried.

Voice 1  

In China, people do not celebrate Halloween. But they have a very similar celebration called ‘Yue Lan’. It is the ‘Festival of the Hungry Ghosts.’ The people there believe that spirits visit the world for 24 hours. Some people burn pictures of fruit or money. They believe that the spirits can see these burned pictures. And the burned pictures bring calm and peace to the ghosts. This celebration is not a time for games or dressing up. Instead, it is a day to remember and respect the memory of dead ancestors.

day of the dead in Mexico
Image by Darvin Santos from Pixabay
Voice 2  

In Mexico, the people celebrate ‘Dia De Muertos’ – ‘the day of the dead.’ Some other Latin American countries also celebrate this holiday. It is not a scary day. It is a time to remember friends and family members who have died. A three-day celebration begins on October 31. During this time, families make special places in their homes to honour their dead friends and family. They place candy, photographs, fresh water, flowers, and food and drink in this special place. They burn candles and strong smelling incense to help spirits find their way home. The last day of the celebration is called ‘All Soul’s Day’. On this day, living family members eat a meal at the gravesite where dead friends and family are buried. They tell stories and remember good times of when the person was alive.

Voice 1  

And the tradition of Halloween is still popular in Ireland too! Today, on Halloween, Irish boys and girls dress like ghosts, witches, or other frightening creatures. They light big fires. Many children go around to different houses. They ask for fruits, nuts, or sweets.

Voice 2  

Halloween can be a lot of fun for children. But is also a good time to remember someone you love who has died. Do you celebrate Halloween? Do you have a tradition that helps you remember people who have died? Tell us about your experiences. You can leave a comment on our website. Or email us at radio@radioenglish.net. You can also comment on Facebook at Facebook.com/spotlightradio.

Voice 1  

The writers of this program were Liz Waid and Adam Navis. The producer was Michio Ozaki. The voices you heard were from the United States and the United Kingdom. You can listen to this program again, and read it, on the internet at www.radioenglish.net. This program is called, ‘All About Halloween’.

Voice 2  

Visit our website to download our free official app for Android and Apple devices. We hope you can join us again for the next Spotlight program. Goodbye.

Question:

Do you celebrate Halloween? Do you celebrate any holiday to remember loved ones who have died?

Join the discussion

51 comments
  • I come from Vietnam and in my country has a day of the dead for ancestor, but we setup anniversary in the day they died every year for each person instead of selecting a day to remember all of them.

  • I do not celebrate Halloween. Traditionally in Ecuador during the October month from the first week, the restaurants and inside the public markets , the most typical offer is to find the delicious beverage very well known in the entire country: Colada Morada . It has to be prepared with a lot of fruits, flowers, and dark corn flavour.. that gives the purple color and density to the beverage that is taken in honor of the passaway season and to remember the dead relatives or friends.

  • I’m from Hong Kong. Halloween is not a very popular celebration in Hong Kong excepts some districts where some western people live there. Bars would always present programs on the day for earning money.

  • Hi spotlight ,I’m muslim and we don’t have day or holiday to celebrate with people who we loved them when they were live. But we always remember them when praying to allah to be in heaven.

  • In state Gujarat of India we have also tradition to remember our ancestors which has 10days duration.it starts in middle of September.We gather our all family members, make special sweet dish called Khir-puri.Firstly we offer it to our ancestors. For that we have to go to our terrace and put dish of food to birds calling “Kagwas.”.This rituals is called Shraadh.

  • We have a Festival of Hungry Ghosts”15 July of the lunar calendar” like in China.it is called “VU LAN” on this day we incense to remember dead friends and family members.

  • Last year I celebrated with my friends, but this year I am not going to celebrate. Usually my family goes to the cemetery on November 2.

  • I’m from Mexico and I do celebrate Halloween, the night of Halloween my friends and I wear costumes and go to parties or go trick or treating. And yes, my family and I celebrate ‘Día de Muertos’ too. We prepare an ‘altar de muertos’ and place pictures, flowers, candles, food, etc. Then we tell stories about when they were alive and of how sweet and nice they were.

  • Do you celebrate Halloween? no I do not
    Do you celebrate a holiday to remember your loved ones who passed away? Yes, I do if we celebrate it in my house or rather we go to the cemetery to be with the beings that are no longer alive with us and we get together in a family home to eat pozole regularly and bread of the dead.

  • No, I don´t celebrate Halloween, because in my religion, since I was a child I have been taught that catholics shouldn´t celebrate it. I celebrate the day of the dead, it´s a great tradition in Mexico and my family remembers our dead relatives that day. We also make an altar and go to the pantheon.

  • Do you celebrate Halloween?
    No i don’t
    Do you celebrate any holiday to remember loved ones who have died?
    Yes , we go to the pantheon

  • -Do you celebrate Halloween? No, I don’t. Nowadays I don’t celebrate it, but a few years ago I did and I was very excited about it.
    -Do you celebrate any holiday to remember loved ones who have died?
    Yes, I do. I celebrate the “Día de Muertos”, normally I celebrate it with my family with an altar, placing food that the person liked and more beautiful decorations.

  • Do you celebrate Halloween?
    I do not celebrate Halloween because here in Mexico people do not give candy to those who dress up.

    Do you celebrate a holiday to remember loved ones who have passed away?
    No, I don’t. In my country the day of the dead is celebrated but in my house we do not usually celebrate it.

  • Hi!! i cant celebrate because the place where i live is very dangerous for this celebrates, better we made a little party with family and is all and y cant remember this.

  • no, i don’t. i come from mexico and in my country we celebrate “dia de muertos” – “the day of the dead”, we going to graveyard the 1st of november in the night and we put candles and flowers in the grave

  • Do you celebrate Halloween? I dont celebrate Halloween.
    Do you celebrate any holiday to remember loved ones who have died?
    I dont have a holiday for that celebration, because thats no important in my life but i know what this celebrations is important for some families and i respect that

  • Do you celebrate Halloween?
    No I don’t, because my family are religious.
    Do you celebrate any holiday to remember loved ones who have died?
    Yes I do, I celebrate “dia de muertos” in these days I go to the cemetery to visit my grandfather and my aunt, I clean the tomb and talk with my family.

  • Do you celebrate Halloween?
    No, I don’t.

    Do you celebrate a holiday to remember loved ones who have passed away?
    No, in my country the day of the dead is celebrated but in my house we do not usually celebrate it.

  • No I don’t celebrate Halloween, Yes I’am from Mexico and all my family we celebrate the day of the dead, and we got together and eat a lot of food.

  • I dont celebrate Halloween but, i celebrate “El dia de muertos” Usually we have a little meeting and eat died bread, some years we go to cementary to visit our died family

  • Do you celebrate Halloween?
    Yes, I do. Because I like to dress up and take my brothers to ask trick or treat
    Do you celebrate any holiday to remember loved ones who have died?
    Yes, I do. In my country we celebrate the day of the dead. In my grandmother’s house they put an altar of my aunt, with the food she liked, her photos and flowers, to remember her. I also like to eat pan de muerto with chocolate.

  • No, I don’t celebrate Halloween, but when I was a kid I did celebrate it sometimes.
    I live in Mexico and in my country the “day of the dead” is celebrated, in which an altar of the dead is usually made for the deceased who wants to remember and an offering is made with the things they liked or their favorite foods when they were with life, but I don’t celebrate that tradition since my family never did, that’s why I never celebrate it.

  • no i do not
    yes i do. On the Day of the Dead that day we spend the whole day in the part where our dead relatives are, we eat, we eat sandwiches and we spend time with other relatives

  • Yes, when I was a child I celebrated it with my loves and we used to ask for sweets, but nowadays I no longer celebrate it like before. Yes, we celebrate, we visit the cemetery to be close to our relatives who passed away.

  • No, I do not celebrate Halloween, because I am a Catholic and my religion does not allow it. I celebrate the day of the dead, we go to the cemetery, we clean the graves of my relatives and we put offerings, we also eat the bread of the dead.

  • -No i don’t celebrate, but every November 1 we go at night to the cementery that is near the coast and there we stay until it is November 2, we go together with our whole family and already being there we eat tamales or menudo, anyway We make a bonfire to be warm, believe it or not, a lot of people go and it feels very good atmosphere and you can see the stars in the sky.

  • Do you celebrate Halloween?
    No, i don´t celebrate Halloween because in my family this tradition was not taught to me.

    Do you celebrate any holiday to remember loved ones who have died?
    Yes, i do. I celebrate “Dia de muertos” with my family reunited eating many meals and champurro

  • When I was a kid, yes, we used to trick-or-treat, it was a lot of fun, but I don’t anymore,Yes, we celebrate, we visit the cemetery to be close to our relatives who passed away.

  • When i was a kid i was going to trick or treat on halloween. And now i go to the halloween costume parties.
    I celebrate Dia de muertos going to the cemetery to see my relatives and eaten pan de muerto.

  • No, I do not celebrate Halloween, because I am a Catholic and my religion does not allow it. I celebrate the day of the dead, we go to the cemetery, we clean the graves of my relatives and we put offerings, we also eat the bread of the dead

  • No, I do not celebrate Halloween, but if I celebrate “Dia de muertos”, we visit the cemetery and make altars to remember loved ones, almost always traditional Mexican foods

  • Do you celebrate Halloween? No, I don’t celebrate it, but when I was a kid, I used to.

    Do you celebrate any holiday to remember loved ones who have died? Yes I do, me and my family do not forget our relatives who are no longer there, we usually go to the cementery, not only these days.

  • I celebrate Halloween. Since 2 Halloweens ago I’ve dressed up and taken my cousins trick-or-treating.
    And I celebrate Dia de Muertos, but everything else is the same, we don’t eat nothing special and we don’t do an altar. But sometimes i only go to the cementery and pray.

  • No, i don´t. I used to celebrate it when I lived in the states, when I was a little kid.
    We don’t regularly celebrate people who have died but we always have them in our hearts.

  • I consider that I do not exactly celebrate Halloween, but that I celebrate my mother’s birthday, so in my family it’s not a tradition to celebrate it and do the typical thing to ask for sweets and go dressed up, but I really would like to celebrate it one day that way.
    And yes, I celebrate “día de muertos” to remember dear people who have died, I consider that it’s something very beautiful and nostalgic, full of union at home.

  • I do celebrate halloween because it is fun, I go out with my friends to halloween parties, we have a lot of fun because everyone dresses up as different characters.
    I celebrate the day of death to remember people that I love and they’re not here anymore.

  • From: ssramossilva@gmail.com
    To: spotlight program
    Subject: to answer to the questions below
    Date: Saturday 31, October 2020
    Location: São Paulo city – São Paulo Brazil South America

    Dear Liz waid, Adam Navis, Bruce Gulland, and Michio Ozaki

    First, I want to thank you for bringing us more one important article. Thank you very much.
    Question 1 – Do you celebrate Halloween?
    Answer 1 – No, I do not. I have fear of it.
    Question 2 – Do you celebrate any holiday to remember loved ones who have died?
    Answer 2 – Yes, I do. Here in my country Brazil we have a tradition on November 02, to celebrate The day of the dead!
    So we go to the cemetery to carry flowers and burn candles for a loved member family or a loved friend that has died. So we put the flowers and candles on his or her tomb.
    God bless you
    Severino Ramos da Silva

  • I don’t like scary things so i don’t celebrate in Halloween.Also, I am arabian man so we don’t have Halloween or something similar to it .

  • Yse we have a celebriation like Hellowe
    in kurdish Community he is called Newroz
    but he’s started beginning in 10march
    the kurdish community Are having fun in this day.

  • In my country, the Fridays are special day to pray and visit the dead people . All people around my country visit gravesite of people who dead once in a week . They are go to ask the God to forgiveness them and show that we still remember them.

  • NO. Because Iam Muslim and this festival is not allowed in my religion .
    but when we want to remember those dead people we can pray for them and ask Allah to put them in paradise.

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