What is Halloween?

Lesson Overview

Halloween is celebrated every year, on the night of October 31st. It’s one of America’s favourite celebrations and it’s practiced in Canada, the United Kingdom and many other countries too.

Many years ago, the celebration was called All Hallows Eve (which became ‘Halloween’). It was a celebration for the ghosts of dead people returning to Earth. People left food at their doors to please the ghosts and would dress up in scary costumes when they left the house so the ghosts wouldn’t trouble them.

Nowadays, children dress up in costumes and collect candy (American English) or sweets (British English) from their neighbours. Adults also get dressed up in costumes and have parties to celebrate Halloween. Often people will dress up as scary characters, like witches, vampires and ghosts!

 

Trick or Treat?

Have you heard this expression used before? It is only used at Halloween. When the children collect candy from their neighbours, they don’t say “Can I have some candy, please?”. Instead, they say ‘trick or treat?‘ (This means they ask their neighbours, “would you like a trick or a treat?“)

Treat – something nice (like candy!)

Trick – something that is not nice (usually something that someone does to be unkind to someone else, often to make others laugh at them).

If the neighbours don’t give the children a treat, they will trick them!

So, the phrase “trick or treat?” actually means: “Give me a treat or I will trick you!”


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