By A.D. 43, Romans had conquered the majority of Celtic territory. In the course of the four hundred years that they ruled the Celtic lands, two festivals of Roman origin were combined with the traditional Celtic celebration of Samhain.
Everything You Ever Wanted To Know About Pumpkins But Were Afraid To Ask...
· Pumpkins are fruits. A pumpkin is a type of squash and is a member of the gourd family (Cucurbitacae), which also includes squash, cucumbers, gherkins, and melons.
· The largest pumpkin pie ever baked was in 2003 and weighed 418 pounds.
· Pumpkins have been grown in North America for five thousand years. They are indigenous to the western hemisphere.
· In 1584, after French explorer Jacques Cartier explored the St. Lawrence region of North America, he reported finding "gros melons." The name was translated into English as "pompions," which has since evolved into the modern "pumpkin."
· Pumpkins are low in calories, fat, and sodium and high in fiber. They are good sources of Vitamin A, Vitamin B, potassium, protein, and iron.
· The largest pumpkin ever grown was 1,337 pounds. It was grown by Charles Houghton of New Boston, New Hampshire.
· Pumpkin seeds should be planted between the last week of May and the middle of June. They take between 90 and 120 days to grow and are picked in October when they are bright orange in color. Their seeds can be saved to grow new pumpkins the next year.
Pumpkin carving is a popular part of modern America's Halloween celebration. Come October, pumpkins can be found everywhere in the country from doorsteps to dinner tables. Despite the widespread carving that goes on in this country every autumn, few Americans really know why or when the jack o'lantern tradition began. Or, for that matter, whether the pumpkin is a fruit or a vegetable. Read on to find out!
People have been making jack o'lanterns at Halloween for centuries. The practice originated from an Irish myth about a man nicknamed "Stingy Jack." According to the story, Stingy Jack invited the Devil to have a drink with him. True to his name, Stingy Jack didn't want to pay for his drink, so he convinced the Devil to turn himself into a coin that Jack could use to buy their drinks. Once the Devil did so, Jack decided to keep the money and put it into his pocket next to a silver cross, which prevented the Devil from changing back into his original form. Jack eventually freed the Devil, under the condition that he would not bother Jack for one year and that, should Jack die, he would not claim his soul. The next year, Jack again tricked the Devil into climbing into a tree to pick a piece of fruit. While he was up in the tree, Jack carved a sign of the cross into the tree's bark so that the Devil could not come down until the Devil promised Jack not to bother him for ten more years.
Soon after, Jack died. As the legend goes, God would not allow such an unsavory figure into heaven. The Devil, upset by the trick Jack had played on him and keeping his word not to claim his soul, would not allow Jack into hell. He sent Jack off into the dark night with only a burning coal to light his way. Jack put the coal into a carved-out turnip and has been roaming the Earth with ever since. The Irish began to refer to this ghostly figure as "Jack of the Lantern," and then, simply "Jack O'Lantern."
"Eye of newt, and toe of frog,
Wool of bat, and tongue of dog"
"Adder's fork, and blind-worm's sting,
Lizard's leg, and owlet's wing"
"For a charm of powerful trouble,
Like a hell-broth boil and babble"
"Double, double, toil and trouble,
Fire burn, and caldron bubble"
The history of "Trick'O'Treating" can be traced back to the early celebrations of All Soul's Day in Britain. The poor would go begging and the housewives would give them special treats called "soulcakes". This was called "going a-souling", and the "soulers" would promise to say a prayer for the dead.
Over time the custom changed and the town's children became the beggars. As they went from house to house they would be given apples, buns, and money.
Halloween in Other Countries
"Halloween" conjures up different reactions in people within America and around the world. America has made Halloween a fun, and commercial holiday, unlike some other countries. There is an old Celtic (KELT-ik) belief that souls of those who have passed away revisit the earth on October 31, and many countries have more serious traditions to honor the dead. Some, like America, use the night to have some fun. Unfortunately, some folks use the night as a time to play tricks on others, and that could happen in any country.
In some countries, "Halloween" may not even occur on October 31. Celebrations with other names may occur November 1 or at other times of the fall or even summer. Here's a sampling of what other people do to celebrate "Halloween" or festivals that honor the dead.
Mexico: El Dia de los Muertos (Day of the Dead) - The holiday begins the night of October 31, continuing on November 1 with All Saints Day and November 2 with All Soul's Day. These may be considered by many Mexicans as the most important celebrations of the year. Mexicans use these days as an opportunity to decorate the graves of family and friends who have passed away. November 1 focuses on children who have died, and November 2, on adults. People often set up altars with food to welcome the souls for a visit.
Italy: On November 1 in Sicily, children anticipate that they will awaken on November 2 to sweets and toys left by their dead relatives. Does that feel creepy to you?
Eastern Europe: Time is spent in prayer and with visiting cemeteries, and Catholics attend Mass. It is usually a quiet day for thinking, although you may find some musical tributes being presented.
France: Lately, France has jumped on board with the idea of Halloween being a time for fun. Chocolates and candies are made and shared, there is some dressing in costumes, and favorite places to visit are MacDonald's and Disneyland Paris! The French also celebrate November 1 as a time to honor the dead, doing some of the same things (such as decorating graves) as their European neighbors.
South Africa: Although Halloween is not an official holiday, some children do some of the fun things associated with the holiday, such as dressing up
Australia: Although it is called Guy Fawkes Eve, and sometimes Mischief Night or Danger Night, most Australian youths just enjoy dances at school or other fun activities.
England: Several traditions are similar to what Americans do, with some modifications. Children will use large beets (instead of pumpkins) and go to neighbors to ask for money.
Japan: The Japanese have various holidays to honor the dead, so they don't necessarily celebrate what we call Halloween. One of their festivals is called O-Bon, sometimes celebrated in July, sometimes in August. The Japanese will place food and water by pictures of people who have passed away. They have bonfires and believe this may light the spirit's way as they come to earth.
Canada: Canadians follow similar traditions as Americans, with trick-or-treating and dressing up in costumes.
China: In China, there is held a "Feast of the Hungry Ghosts." The Chinese offer food and gifts to make spirits comfortable. They will even burn paper money, thinking it will help pay for the spirit's needs in another world.
Idioms and Expressions:
the apple of one's eye - someone's favorite person, a well-loved person
the Big Apple - New York City
to be as blind as a bat - to have very poor eye sight
to be as white as a ghost - to be very pale, to have no color in one's face
to look like a skeleton - to be very thin
skeleton at the feast - a person or thing that casts gloom over a joyful occasion; a note or reminder of sorrow in the midst of joy
skeleton in the closet or cupboard - a family scandal that is concealed to avoid public disgrace; a shameful secret
a jack of all trades - a person who has many skills
to mask one's feelings - to cover or hide one's true feelings.
give up the ghost - to die, to cease to exist
to bat around - to roam, to drift
to bat out - to do something, write, produce somethins hurriedly
to go to bat for - to give assistance to, to defend, to intercede for, to vouch for someone/something
right off the bat - at once, without delay, immediately
have bats in one's belfry - to have crazy ideas, to very peculiar, erratic or foolish.
not bat an eye - to show no emotion or surprise
Did you know that there are many synonims to the word Ghost?
For example: apparition, phantom, phantasm, wraith, revenant; shade, spook, specter, spirit. The word Ghost is an old Saxon word equivalent to soul or spirit. It is the translation of the Hebrew _nephesh_ and the Greek _pneuma_, both meaning "breath," "life," "spirit," the "living principle".
Enjoy fun way to learn vocabulary with the Hangman game.