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Ottobre 2005
Molto meno “straniera” di quanto si pensi, la festa di Halloween ha origini celtiche e il nome deriva da All Hallows’ Eve Day, cioé Ognissanti. E le zucche? Quelle sì, sono un’invenzione americana.

di John Rigg

File audio:


Speaker: Justin Ratcliffe

Children celebrate Halloween around the world on the night of October 31st. They go out in macabre costumes to knock on their neighbours’ doors and shout out “Trick or treat!” The neighbours must give sweets, otherwise the children will perform tricks on them.

Big Business

Halloween is big business in the United States: people spend around $7 billion each year on Halloween products. Theme parks like Disneyland hold week-long festivals and many cities have parades. New York’s Village Halloween Parade attracts two million people who celebrate in the streets: many of them dress in stunning costumes.
The tradition is strongest in the United States, but interest is growing in Britain and Europe.

The Celtic Connection

In actual fact Halloween originated in Europe as a Celtic New Year celebration. In the Celtic calendar October 31st was Samhain, a pagan festival. The Celts believed that the dead returned to possess the living during that night and so they left food on their doorsteps for the good souls and wore costumes to scare off evil ones. Their priests – the druids – led the people out into the forests where they made bonfires and sacrifices to their gods.
Finally, each family took home an ember from the fire in turnip lanterns, in order to start new home fires. The fires warmed their houses throughout the cold winter and kept away evil spirits.
In the Middle Ages the Roman Catholic church established November 1st as All Saints’ Day. There were parades and people gave food or “soul cakes” to the poor. The name Halloween comes from “hallow,” which is Old English for “saint,” and “even,” which, like the word “eve,” means “the evening before.”

Turnips and pumpkins

In the nineteenth century Irish and Scottish immigrants took their traditions to America, where they discovered that turnips were uncommon, but a local vegetable, the pumpkin, could be used for making lanterns. Today pumpkins are grown all over the world so there’s no excuse.
Prepare your lanterns, the night of Halloween is near…

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neighbours - vicini di casa.

tricks - scherzi, dispetti.

stunning - straordinari.

doorsteps - soglia di casa.

souls - anime.

to scare off evil ones - per spaventare quelle cattive.

bonfires - falò.

ember - tizzone.

turnip lanterns - lanterne ricavate da rape.

pumpkin - zucca.