Customs & Traditions Exercises

Where did Halloween come from?

Since our friends are from different countries, their customs and traditions related to some important holidays in the year differ. Let’s have a look at these differences in detail.

It’s Saturday afternoon. Emma, Heidi, Juan, James, and David are going on a picnic. They are talking about how they celebrate Christmas, Easter, and other holidays in their countries. Let’s have a look at it!

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A. Emma: In Slovakia, we don’t celebrate Halloween by wearing fancy costumes,
     but we call this holiday ‘All Saints’ Day’.
    James: The name ‘Halloween’ comes from the day’s role in Christian tradition        as All Hallows Eve or a vigil, before All Saints Day. People in America decorate      their houses with typical Halloween symbols, objects, and creatures, such as        bats, ghosts, skeletons, etc.

HALLOWEEN VOCABULARY QUIZ. Choose the correct answer.

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B. James: Many Americans celebrate the traditions of Halloween by dressing in
    costumes and telling tales of witches and ghosts. Pumpkins are carved into
    glowering jack-o’-lanterns. Children parade from house to house, knocking on
    doors and calling out “Trick or treat!” hoping to have their bags filled with              candy.

HALLOWEEN HISTORY QUIZ / Choose the correct answer.

C. David: I didn’t know that a carved pumpkin is called Jack-O’-lantern.
    Emma: Me neither. I like the name!
   James: Do you want to hear a legend about Jack-O’-lantern?

Read the story about Jack-O’-lantern and mark the sentences TRUE or FALSE.

Additional information:

to carve out – vyhĺbiť, vyrezať
stingy – lakomý
to trick sb – dobehnúť/oklamať niekoho
cross – kríž
stuck – uviaznuť
promise – sľub
pearly gates of heaven – nebeská brána
wander – túlať sa
netherworld – podsvetie
to toss an ember – pohodiť žeravý uhlík
a turnip – kapusta/okrúhlica
to roamed the earth – potulovať sa po zemi

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In the 1800s, multiple waves of Irish immigrants came to America. The Irish immigrants quickly discovered that pumpkins were giant and easy to carve out, and so they used them for Jack O’ Lanterns.

The Jack O’ Lantern legend goes back hundreds of years in Irish history. Many of the
stories center around Stingy Jack.

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Stingy Jack was a miserable, old drunk who took pleasure in playing tricks on just about everyone, from family to friends, his mother, and even the devil himself.

One day, he tricked the devil into climbing up an apple tree. After the devil had climbed up the tree, Stingy Jack hurriedly placed crosses around the tree trunk. Unable to touch a cross, the devil was left stuck in the tree. Stingy Jack then made the devil promise not to take his soul when he died. Once the devil had made this promise, Stingy Jack removed the crosses, and the devil climbed down out of the apple tree.

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Many years later, when Jack died, he went to the pearly gates of heaven and was told by Saint Peter that he was mean and cruel and had led a miserable, worthless life on earth. Stingy Jack was not allowed to enter heaven, and s instead, he went down to hell and the devil. The devil kept his promise and would not allow him to enter hell.

Jack was left scared and had nowhere to go but to wander around forever in the dark netherworld between heaven and hell. He asked the devil how he could leave since there was no light. The devil then tossed him an ember from the flames of hell to help Stingy Jack light his way.

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Jack had a turnip with him. It was one of his favorite foods, so he always carried one. Jack hollowed out the turnip and placed the ember the devil had given him inside the turnip. From that day onward, Stingy Jack roamed the earth without a resting place, lighting his way as he went with his ‘Jack – o’ -Lantern.’

D. David: In Slovakia, there are different traditions connected with this holiday.
    We don’t wear Halloween costumes.

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E. James: There is one more holiday we celebrate in fall.
    David: Let me guess. Is it Thanksgiving Day?
    James: Exactly! We celebrate in on the last Thursday in November.
    David: How do you celebrate it and why?
    Emma: I heard that this holiday was first celebrated in 17th century.
    David: That’s right. It is the oldest American holiday…

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F. James: We also celebrate Independence Day. On this day, people…

Read the text about Independence Day, and mark the sentences True or False.

Independence Day is on 4th July, celebrated in the USA.  On this day, all Americans commemorate the Declaration of Independence from 1776. The declaration was adopted by thirteen American colonies that gained independence from the British. It is a day of fireworks, parties, and people dress in national colors, decorated with national flags.

The Statue of Liberty  is America’s symbol of freedom. The torch represents enlightenment  and it lights the path to liberty and freedom. The official name is “Liberty Enlightening the World.” It was designed by French sculptor Frederic-Auguste Bartholdi. The tablet she is holding has the date July 4, 1776 engraved on it.

Santa Claus
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G. Emma: James, do you celebrate St. Nicholas Day in America?
    James: Sure, we also call him Santa Claus that is believed to travel around the
    world sporting a red suit on his sleigh, pulled by reindeer.
    Heidi: In Britain, we call him Father Christmas.

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H. Juan: Christmas is also an important holiday of the year.
    Emma: That’s right. Christmas is celebrated to remember the birth of Jesus
    Christ, who Christians believe is the Son of God.

CHRISTMAS VOCABULARY QUIZ. Choose the correct answer

I.Slovak Christmas traditions are very specific and extraordinary.

CHRISTMAS TRADITIONS QUIZ. Choose the correct answer

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J. Now read about how Christmas Eve looks like in David’s family.

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