Halloween is celebrated in the USA, and has become popular in Europe, too. Many children and adults go to Halloween parties, wearing scary costumes and masks. American children take their costumes and masks to school. Some typical Halloween costumes are witches, ghosts, skeletons, monsters, vampires and aliens. Many parents make the costumes, but some prefer to buy them. In the afternoon the children put on their costumes and have a Halloween party at school. Pumpkins, ghosts, witches and bats decorate the school hall and the classrooms.
There are, of course, party games. One is called “bobbing for apples”. To play this game you put water and apples in a big bowl. The apples stay on top of the water. You must take an apple out of the water with your teeth, but you can’t use your hands. It’s not easy! Many people get very wet!
Another popular Halloween tradition is “trick or treating”. This began in the 19th century, and was an Irish tradition. Irish immigrants brought “trick or treating” to the United States. Today children and teenagers go “trick or treating” in the evening. They visit their neighbours’ houses in their costumes. When the door opens they say “Trick or treat?” People usually give them sweets of money. But when people don’t give them a treat, the children play a trick. They sometimes write on windows with soap or even through an egg at the front door of the house.
It is a popular tradition in the USA to buy a big pumpkin and make a jack-o’-lantern. People put their jack-o’-lanterns in front of the windows of their homes or in their gardens. This tradition originated in Great Britain and Ireland, when people wanted to frighten evil spirits. If you want to have your own jack-o'-lantern follow the indications given in the picture above. Remember that the more frightening the face in your lantern, the better.
Text and picture from the book "English and American Festivities", Black Cat Publishing, 2004