It doesn’t matter if you are studying FCE, CAE or general English in our Callan classes…..everybody needs a break every now and again! A chance to let your hair down! A time to let go completely!

At the Central School, we think Halloween is that time… thats why we will be celebrating Halloween with you all at the Central School Halloween party! We look forward to seeing you all there dressed up in costume!

But before we all get into partymode we thought you might like to know a little more about Ireland’s special connection to Halloween. Here are some of the facts!

What halloween celebrated

Halloween began as a Celtic festival in Ireland. It celebrated the end of the Celtic year and it was celebrated over the evening of the 31st of October and throughout the following day.

Where did the ghosts come from?

Originally named Samhain, it was a time of transition in the Celtic calander. The 31st of October celebrated the ending of one year and the beginning of a new year for the Celts. The Celts believed in spirits and they thought that on the evening of October 31st, the world of the dead and the world of the living were connected. For this reason spirits of the dead could come from the world of the dead into the world of the living.

Why masks?

To protect themselves from evil entering their world during the Samhain festival, the Celts lit huge bonfires and wore ugly masks to confuse the spirits of the dead. They danced around the bonfires, making lots of noise to drive the spirits away.

The original pumpkin

To ward off spirits and prevent them from entering their homes, the Celts cut out frightening faces on turnips and left these on doorsteps. They put a candle inside the turnip to give the home some extra protection. The Celts also left out food for the spirits in the hope that this would please them.

Halloween games

For the Celts, Samhain was a time to predict the coming year the Celts had many traditions that predicted what was going to happen in the coming year.

By peeling an apple and reading what letter the peel spelled, a man or woman found out who they would marry the next year. The Celts mixed a ring into a large bowl of food. They put the bowl of food in the middle of a table. People around the table took turns to take a spoonful of the food. The person who found the ring in their food was the person who married during the next Celtic year.

Trick or treating was a tradition of collecting food from each home to offer to the gods when asking for protection for animals and crops over the next year. People who didn’t offer a lot of food to the gods had tricks played on them.

Halloween today

Halloween moved to America with emigrants leaving Ireland during the Potato famine. During this time, Irish emigrants carried on celebrating Halloween. In America, pumpkins were cheaper to buy and easier to find than turnips, and so the tradition of carving out a pumpkin began.

Today, people eat a bread called Barmbrack at Halloween. Barmbrack is a bread with raisins and this bread has a ring inside. The person who eats the slice of bread with the ring is supposed to have luck. Today Halloween is still celebrated in Ireland and has become a popular holiday in many countries around the world.

Children look forward to Halloween because they dress up in costumes and call into their neighbours houses trick or treating. People also light bonfires on Halloween night.

Test your knowledge

  • When did Halloween begin in Ireland?
  • Why did the Celts celebrate Halloween?
  • What did the Celts believe was special about the evening of the 31st October?
  • Why did the Celts light bonfires on Halloween night?
  • Why did the Celts wear masks on Halloween night?
  • Why did the Celts leave a turnip outside their houses?
  • Who did the Celts leave food out for on Halloween night?
  • How did the Celts predict the next year on Halloween night?
  • What was trick or treating?
  • When did the tradition of carving out a pumpkin begin?
  • What do Irish people eat today during Halloween?

Past Simple

Do you remember the past simple of the following verbs?

  • Begin
  • leave
  • celebrate
  • put
  • believe
  • have
  • can
  • predict
  • light
  • mix
  • wear
  • take
  • dance
  • find out
  • marry
  • carry on

Phrasal verbs

Dress up: to put on clothes/to wear clothes of a certain type or style Example: Are you dressing up to go out for dinner this evening?

Believe in: When you believe in something/somebody you are sure that something/somebody exists Example: Do you believe in ghosts?

Ward off: to stop something from harming you/coming near you Example: Garlic and crosses ward off vampires!

Find out: To discover/learn something you don’t know Example: Did you find out what time the next bus leaves?

Carry on: To continue Example: The children carried on playing while their mother cooked dinner.

Idioms

Let your hair down: to relax and enjoy yourself without worrying what other people will think Example: She really let her hair down at the party last Saturday

Let yourself go: to act in a relaxed way Example: I usually let myself go at the weekends

Get into partymode: to get into the mindset of having a great time Example: Diane and her friends got into partymode by listening to music before they went out on Saturday night

Exercises

Can you complete the following phrases using idioms and phrasal verbs from the text

  • John decided to ______________ as his favourite actor for Halloween.
  • Children around the world __________________ Santa.
  • Paul went to the information office to ___________________ what time the next train was due to depart.
  • Mark threw a party on his birthday because he really wanted to ___________________ and have a good time with his friends.
  • You should put on some insect repellant to _________________mosquitos. Otherwise you will be covered in bites!
  • Paul and Mark decorated the house to _______________________before the guests arrived for the birthday party.
  • Many students __________________ studying English for many years after they leave high school.