IELTS Listening practice - the story behind The Beatles' Lovely Rita on Sergeant Pepper - practice questions & answers
A young couple move to the country. Every night they visit a beautiful local church. Inside there are two marble statues. Why do these statues frighten local people? And what is the secret of the broken marble finger? 'The Marble Finger' is based on a classic horror story, Man Made in Marble (1893)…
Hallowe'en or All-Hallows-Eve takes place on the night of 31 October. Hallow is the old English word for saint.
On All Hallows Day (1 November) the Catholic Church remembers Christian martyrs. This feast day can be traced back to the Middle Ages.
All Souls Day - when Catholics pray for the 'souls of the departed' - follows on 2 November.
English Language level: Intermediate+ CEFR B2/C1
So is Halloween Christian or Pagan?
Like Christmas, Halloween combines Pagan & Christian customs.
The lighting of bonfires symbolized the plight of souls lost in purgatory (Catholic). It also scared away witches & ghouls (Pagan).
Souling was going door-to-door offering prayers for the dead. In exchange the visited house provides "soul cakes" and other treats. The modern form is 'trick or treat'.
Mumming (or "guising") consisted of parading in costume, chanting rhymes, and play-acting. The custom was originally associated with Christmas. Source
Halloween features in Victorian ghost stories like E. Nesbit's 'Man-Made-in-Marble' - read and/or listen to a retelling here.
But isn't the Catholic Church against Halloween?
Not exactly. It just does not recognise it as a religious holiday (again like Christmas Eve). Nor does it approve of modern attempts to connect Halloween with devil worship.
What about the modern festival?
Today the religious elements of Halloween eclipse the pagan ones. There are no Jack O Lanterns in the Bible!
Another example of the devil having all the best tunes ...
A Christmas Carol is a great story but can be difficult for new readers. This condensed and lightly edited version is the ideal introduction to the Dickens classic.
Complete reader and audio book
Read & listen stave by stave
Selection of useful quotations
Short audio readings of key passages
Reading, writing & listening worksheets
Free updates of materials
Even parrots can't keep still for the King - most can't anyway ...