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Next to Christmas, Halloween is the most commercialized celebration in the United States and Canada. This ancient festival originated far from North America however, and centuries before the first European set foot on the continent.
The ancient Druids 督伊德教(古代高卢人与不列颠人的一种宗教)的教徒 who inhabited what we now call Great Britain placed great importance on the passing of one season to the next, holding "Fire Festivals" which were celebrated for three days (two days on either side of the day itself).
One of these festivals was called Samhain (pronounced Sha-Von) and it took place on October 31 through to November 1. During this period, it was believed that the boundaries between our world and the world of the dead were weakened, allowing spirits of the recently dead to cross over and possess the living.
In order to make themselves and their homes less inviting to these wayward spirits, the ancient Celts(凯尔特人)would douse (插入水中, 把弄熄, 弄湿)all their fires. There was also a secondary purpose to this, after extinguishing all their fires, they would re-light them from a common source, the Druidic fire that was kept burning at Usinach, in the Middle of Ireland.
Samhain was considered to be a gateway not only from the land of the dead to the land of the living, but also between Summer and Fall/Winter. For the Druids, this was the last gasp (喘息, 气喘)of summer (it was also the Celtic New Year), so therefore they made sure it went out with a bang before they had to button down (把...弄清楚)for the winter ahead.
They would dress up in bizarre costumes and parade through their villages causing destruction in order to scare off any recently departed souls who might be prowling (巡游)for bodies to inhabit, in addition to burning animals and other offerings to the Druidic deities(神, 神性). It is also a popular belief that they would burn people who they believed to be possessed, but this has largely been debunked (揭穿, 拆穿假面具, 暴露)as myth.
This yearly festival was adopted by the Roman invaders, who helped to propagate (传播, 宣传)it throughout the rest of the world (and at that time, the Roman Empire was the world). The word "Halloween" itself actually comes from a contraction of All Hallows Eve, or All Saint's Day (November 1), which is a Catholic day of observance in honor of saints.
This tradition was later brought to the North American continent by Irish immigrants who were escaping the Potato Famine in their homeland. In addition to the festival itself, the immigrants brought several customs with them, including one of the symbols most commonly associated with Halloween -- the Jack 'O Lantern.
According to Irish folklore, there once lived a man named Jack who was known for being a drunk and a prankster(顽皮的人, 爱开玩笑的人). One night Jack tricked the devil into climbing a tree, and quickly carved an image of a cross on the trunk, trapping the devil. Jack then made him promise that, in exchange for letting him out of the tree, the Devil would never tempt him to sin again. He reluctantly agreed, but was able to exact his revenge upon Jack's death. Because of his mischievous ways in life, Jack was barred from entering heaven and because of his earlier trick, he was also barred from hell. So he was doomed to wander the earth until the end of time, with only a single ember(灰烬, 余烬) (carried in a hollowed out turnip.[植]芜箐, 芜箐甘蓝) to warm him and light his way.
In Ireland, they originally also used turnips for their "Jack Lanterns", but upon arriving in the new world, they discovered that pumpkins were abundant and easier to carve out.
Halloween is an autumn holiday that Americans celebrate every year. It means "holy evening," and it comes every October 31, the evening before All Saints' Day. However, it is not really a church holiday, it is a holiday for children mainly.
Every autumn, when the vegetables are ready to eat, children pick large orange pumpkins. Then they cut faces in the pumpkins and put a burning candle inside. It looks as if there were a person looking out of the pumpkin! These lights are called jack-o'-lanterns, which means "Jack of the lantern".
The children also put on strange masks and frightening costumes every Halloween. Some children paint their faces to look like monsters. Then they carry boxes or bags from house to house. Every time they come to a new house, they say,"Trick or treat! Money or eat!" The grown-ups put treat-money or candy in their bags.
Not only children, but most grown-ups also love Halloween and Halloween parties because on this day,they can disguise themselves as personages or ghost as their imaginations will lead them. This bring them the satisfaction of being young.
On October 31st, dozens of children dressed in costumes(节日服装)knock on their neighbors' doors and yell "Trick or Treat" when the door opens. Pirates and princesses, ghosts and popular heroes of the day all hold bags open to catch the candy or other goodies that the neighbors drop in. As they give each child a treat the neighbors exclaim over the costumes and try to guess who is under the masks.
Since the 800's November 1st is a religious holiday known as All Saints' Day(万圣节). The Mass that was said on this day was called Allhallowmas. The evening before became known as All Hakkiw e'en, or Halloween. Like some other American celebrations, its origins lie in both pre-Christian and Christian customs.
October 31 st was the eve of the Celtic(凯尔特人的)new year. The Celts were the ancestors of the present-day Irish, Welsh and Scottish people. On this day ghosts walked and mingled with the living, or so the Celts thought. The townspeople baked food all that day and when night fell they dressed up and tried to resemble the souls of the dead. Hoping that the ghosts would leave peacefully before midnight of the new year.
Much later, when Christianity spread throughout Ireland and October 31 was no longer the last day of the year, Halloween became a celebration mostly for children. "Ghosts" went from door to door asking for treats, or else a trick would be played on the owners of the house. When millions of Irish people immigrated to the United States in the 1840s the tradition came with them.
Today' school dances and neighborhood parties called "block parties" are popular among young and old alike. More and more adults celebrate Halloween. They dress up like historical or political figures and go to masquerade parties(化妆舞会). In larger cities, costumed children and their parents gather at shopping malls early in the evening. Stores and businesses give parties with games and treats for the children.Teenagers enjoy costume dances at their schools and the more outrageous the costume the better!
Certain pranks(恶作剧)such as soaping car windows and tipping over garbage cans are expected. But partying and pranks are not the only things that Halloweeners enjoy doing. Some collect money to buy food and medicine for needy children around the world.
Symbols of Halloween
Halloween originated as a celebration connected with evil spirits. Witches flying on broomsticks with black cats, ghosts, goblins(小精灵)and skeletons have all evolved as symbols of Halloween. They are popular trick-or-treat costumes and decorations for greeting cards and windows. Black is one of the traditional Halloween colors, probably because Halloween festivals and traditions took place at night. In the weeks before October 31, Americans decorate windows of houses and schools with silhouettes(轮廓)of witches and black cats.
Pumpkins are also a symbol of Halloween. The pumpkin is an orange-colored squash, and orange has become the other traditional Halloween color. Carving pumpkins into jack- o'lanterns is a Halloween custom also dating back to Ireland. A legend grew up about a man named Jack who was so stingy(吝啬的)that he was not allowed into heaven when he died, because he was a miser(吝啬鬼). He couldn't enter hell either because he had played jokes on the devil. As a result, Jack had to walk the earth with his lantern until Judgement Day(审判日). The Irish people carved scary faces out of turnips(芜菁根), beets(甜菜根)or potatoes representing "Jack of the Lantern," or Jack-o'lantern. When the Irish brought their customs to the United States, they carved faces on pumpkins because in the autumn they were more plentiful than turnips. Today jack-o'-lanterns in the windows of a house on Halloween night let costumed children know that there are goodies(糖果)waiting if they knock and say "Trick or Treat!"
Dried Pumpkin Seeds
After carving your pumpkin, separate the pulp from the seeds. Rinse(冲洗)the seeds and spread them out to dry. The next day, add enough melted butter or margarine(人造黄油)to coat each seed. Spread the seeds onto a cookie sheet(甜酥饼干)and bake for 20 minutes in a 300 degree oven for 20 minutes or until they are slightly brown.
Take the paper wrapping off about 100 caramels(饴糖)and put them in a saucepan(炖锅). Put the saucepan over a pan of boiling water. Boil the water until the caramels melt. Put a wooden stick into the top of each apple, dip the apple into the caramel. Let them cool on wax paper and enjoy!
No Halloween party is complete without at least one scary story. Usually one person talks in a low
voice while everyone else crowds together on the floor or around a fire. The following is a retelling of a tale told in Britain and in North Carolina and Virginia.
"What Do You Come For?"
There was an old woman who lived all by herself, and she was very lonely. Sitting in the kitchen one night, she said, "Oh, I wish I had some company."
No sooner had she spoken than down the chimney tumbled two feet from which the flesh had rotted. The old woman's eyes bulged with terror.
Then two legs dropped to the hearth and attached themselves to the feet.
Then a body tumbled down, then two arms, and a man's head.
As the old woman watched, the parts came together into a great, tall man. The man danced around and around the room. Faster and faster he went. Then he stopped, and he looked into her eyes.
"What do you come for? she asked in a small voice that shivered and shook.
"What do I come for?" he said. "I come for YOU!"
The narrator shouts and jumps at the person near him