Halloween is Coming

Three dogs in ghost costumes next to a jack-o'-lantern
Three dogs in ghost costumes next to a jack-o'-lantern (source)

Halloween - the annual celebration of all things scary - is approaching. At the cinema, new horror movies have opened, including Halloween Ends. It is the latest in a series of scary movies that began with 1978’s horror classic, Halloween.

Preparations for the big night are also underway. Festive people have been looking for the perfect pumpkin to carve into a jack-o’-lantern. Carved pumpkins do not last long, so it is best to carve them in the few days immediately before October 31st.

The other major traditions are dressing up in costume, and for children, wearing that costume while trick-or-treating. According to Google, the most popular costume-related searches are a mix of classic ideas and popular culture. This year’s top-ten searches include Stranger Things and Spiderman. Classic costumes that people are looking for include fairy and pirate, with the top search for the second-year running being witch.

While costumes range from cute or funny to genuinely scary, some concepts are still off-limits. Online sales site eBay banned the sale of costumes related to the serial killer Jeffrey Dahmer. Dahmer killed seventeen people between 1978 and 1991 and has recently re-entered the public consciousness through a Netflix show. The show was popular, but eBay does not want to be associated with recent crime or the glorification of violence.

Sources: usatoday.com, frightgeist.withgoogle.com, buzzfeednews.com

For source links, see the article on ESLNewsStories.com

Worksheet with activities


Hear the article spoken:

Useful Language

  • Annual (adj) - happening once every year
  • Underway (adj) - happening now
  • Festive (adj) - cheerful, people who enjoy celebrating
  • Carve (v) - to make a pattern by cutting away parts of something
  • Trick-or-treating (n) - going door to door in costume and saying, ‘trick or treat,’ as a way of asking for sweets
  • Running (adv) - one after another, in a row
  • Off-limits (adj) - not allowed, inappropriate
  • Consciousness (n) - the thoughts, beliefs, and feelings of a group of people
  • Associate (v) - connect
  • Glorification (n) - making something seem more important or better


Discuss the following questions with your partner(s).

  1. What did you think about this story? Was there any surprising information?
  2. Is Halloween or something similar celebrated in your country? How important is it?
  3. Do you like horror movies? Why or why not?
  4. Why do people like to watch scary movies, tell scary stories, and sometimes scare their friends?
  5. Have you carved a jack-o’-lantern? Was it difficult? If not, would you like to try carving one?
  6. Why is witch such a popular costume?
  7. If you were going to a costume party or Halloween party, what would you dress up as?
  8. What treats do you like? What treats are popular with children these days?
  9. Do you agree with eBay’s decision to not allow sales of costumes related to Jeffrey Dahmer? Why is it okay to dress as a zombie but not okay to dress as a serial killer?
  10. The celebration of Halloween is traditional. Do you like traditions? Are there any traditions that you don’t like?