Halloween: An “Unofficial” American Holiday 万圣节 - 美国的一个非正式节日

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万圣节之夜,就是在十月的最后一天,这对孩子们来说是一个非常特殊的一天。孩子们会穿上可爱的服装,或者稀奇古怪如同鬼怪一样的付账,然后到邻居家去敲门,一边还要说,“诡计或者款待!”打扮成海盗或者公主、鬼怪或者巫婆,每一个孩子都拿口袋来装邻居给他们的糖果和其他好吃的东西。

自从第八世纪,十一月一日是众所周知的一个宗教节日,就是“万圣节”。在那一天天主教的弥撒,就被成为“万圣日弥撒”。而这一天之前的晚上,则被称为“万圣节之夜”,也称“万圣夜”,英文的简写就是 Halloween。就如众多其他美国人所庆祝的日子一样,就成为了基督徒的惯例。

虽然在美国十月三十一日不是一个正式的节假日,万圣节却成为孩子们最喜欢的传统节日。在那一天的晚上,他们就可以打扮成鬼怪、小精灵、和童话故事里各式各样的幽灵,还可以从成年人那里收集到很多糖果和各种礼物。绝大部分美国人认为万圣节是一个庆贺的机会,但是这个节日的起源远超过美国的历史,而且所庆贺的内容也随着时间的飞驰而变迁了许多。到现在为止,其他国家都有自己一套对这一天的庆祝方式和习惯意义。

南瓜是万圣节的一个象征。南瓜与橙子有同一个颜色,而橙子的颜色是传统万圣节的颜色。把南瓜雕刻成杰克南瓜灯是万圣节的一个习惯,这个习惯可以追逐到爱尔兰古代一个神话传说。这个传说说到了一个名为杰克的小气鬼,因为他是如此的吝啬,以至于他不能进入天堂。为此他只能打着灯笼,在地上到处游荡直到上帝审判世人的时候。当初爱尔兰人用红萝卜、甜菜头、或者土豆来雕刻杰克可怕的嘴脸,以此来表示杰克的灯笼,或者就称为 jack-o’-lantern。当爱尔兰人把他们的传统带到美国来以后,他们就在南瓜上雕刻,因为在秋季南瓜比红萝卜多得多。现在,在万圣节人们会把杰克的灯笼挂在屋子的窗户上,这也就是给孩子们一个信号,就是这栋房子里已经准备好了糖果,欢迎孩子们来讨糖果。

那一天会有很多派对,无论是学校的还是邻居的,都称这样的派对为“黑夜派对”,这样的派对在青年人和老年人中都很流行。而且越来越多的成年人来庆祝万圣节了,他们把自己打扮成历史人物或者政治人物,去参见化妆舞会。在美国的一些大城市里,父母们带着他们化妆了的孩子,在傍晚的时候就到购物中心。购物中心里的商店、公司,让孩子们玩乐、给他们糖果。中学生喜欢学校里的化妆舞会,而且越是古怪的服装越是受欢迎。有的顽皮的孩子会做一些捣蛋的事情,诸如在汽车的玻璃上涂上肥皂,把垃圾桶打翻等等。但是万圣节并不是都干这样捣蛋的事,也有人收集一些资金来买一些食物和药品给世界是一些有这样需要的孩子。


讨论问题:

  1. 在这篇文章里你学到了有关万圣节的一些什么工作?是否还有一些好奇的问题?

  2. 在万圣节,你是不是会让你的孩子去做文章中所提到的事呢?

  3. 在你的文化习惯中,也没有类似万圣节的庆祝?

  4. 你是否雕刻过南瓜?结果怎么样?

  5. 你是否参加过化妆舞会?有什么感觉?

Halloween, the last day of October, has a special significance for children, who dress in funny or ghostly costumes and knock on neighborhood doors shouting "Trick or Treat!" Pirates and princesses, ghosts and witches all hold bags open to catch the candy or other goodies that the neighbors drop in.

Since the 800's, November 1st is a religious holiday known as All Saints' Day. The Mass that was said on this day was called Allhallowmas. The evening before became known as All Hallow’s eve, or Halloween for short. Like some other American celebrations, its origins lie in both pre-Christian and Christian customs.

While not an official holiday, the traditional October 31 Halloween celebration is much beloved by children of the United States, for whom the day is a chance to wear costumes often depicting ghosts, goblins and other "supernatural" creatures and to collect candy and other treats from adults. Most Americans consider Halloween a festive occasion, but its roots long predate the United States and its meaning has changed greatly over time. Even today, many other nations celebrate their own versions of this long-observed festival.

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 a superstitious legend started in Ireland. A legend grew up about a man named Jack who was so stingy that he was not allowed into heaven when he died, because he was a miser. As a result, Jack had to walk the earth with his lantern until Judgment Day. The Irish people carved scary faces out of turnips, beets 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 waiting if they knock and say "Trick or Treat!"

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 as historical or political figures and go to masquerade parties. 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 such as soaping car windows and tipping over garbage cans are expected. But partying and pranks are not the only things that Halloween-ers enjoy doing. Some collect money to buy food and medicine for needy children around the world.


Discussion Questions:

  1. What did you learn about Halloween from this article? What might you still be curious about?

  2. Is Halloween a holiday that you would allow your kids to celebrate as mentioned in the article?

  3. What similar holiday(s) to Halloween do you have in your culture?

  4. Have you ever carved a pumpkin? What were the results?

  5. Have you ever been to a costume party before? What was it like?

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