Thứ Tư, 29 tháng 10, 2014

Tên gọi Halloween hay Hallowe'en có niên đại từ khoảng năm 1745 và có nguồn gốc Kitô giáo.
Từ "Halloween" có nghĩa là buổi tối linh thiêng hay thánh thiêng. Nó bắt nguồn từ một thuật từ Scotland All Hallows' Eve (buổi tối vọng lễ chư thánh).

Trong tiếng Scots, từ eve chính là even (buổi tối) trong tiếng Anh, từ này sau được viết ngắn gọn thành e'en hay een. Theo thời gian, All Hallows' Eve dần trở thành Halloween.

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New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio and wife Chirlane McCray greet trick or treaters during a Halloween open house at Gracie Mansion on Tuesday, Oct. 28, 2014 in New York. (Photo by Greg Allen/Invision/AP)

October 31st is Halloween. On that night, children around the United States will wear special clothing and make up their faces to look like frightening creatures. These little vampires, ghosts and witches will walk around their neighborhoods, knocking on doors and yelling “trick or treat.” If the people in the homes do not give them a sweet treat, candy, the children may play a trick on them.
Many homes are also dressed up for Halloween. People hang toy spiders, skeletons and other scary decorations on trees and bushes. Pumpkins are also popular. People often empty the pumpkins and carve frightening faces on them. Then they place a candle inside so the pumpkin face glows in the night.
Halloween traditions developed from Celtic beliefs in ancient Britain. The Celts believed that spirits of the dead would return to their homes on October 31st, the day of the autumn feast. Celts would build huge fires to frighten away evil spirits released with the dead on that night.
People from Scotland and Ireland brought these ideas with them when they came to America. Some believed that spirits played tricks on people on the last night of October.
Today, Halloween is a favorite holiday among children. But Halloween is also big business. The National Retail Federation has reported predictions about Halloween spending for the last 11 years. It says, this year, it expects Halloween sales to total about $7.4 billion. The National Retail Federation says the average person will spend more than $77 on Halloween goods. And, the NRF says more Americans plan to take part in Halloween activities than last year. The group expects 162 million people to celebrate compared to 158million people in 2013. It says 54 million of those people plan to hold Halloween parties.
Not all children, or adults, dress to scare on Halloween. Other popular costumes include super heroes and Disney characters. The NRF says this year characters from two children’s movies will be especially popular. Can you guess the movies? Of course, “Frozen” and “Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles.”
Humans will not be the only costumed creatures Halloween night. The National Retail Federation says about 23 million people plan to dress up their animals. The top two popular pet costumes are pumpkins and hot dogs.
Happy Halloween! I’m Caty Weaver.
Words in this Story
vampire – n. a dead person who leaves the grave at night to bite and suck the blood of living people
ghost – n. the soul of a dead person thought of as living in an unseen world or as appearing to living people
witch – n. a woman who is thought to have magic powers
candy – n. a sweet food made with sugar or chocolate
costume – n. the clothes that are worn by someone (such as an actor) who is trying to look like a different person or thing.

The devil is found in many different cultures and religions and takes on many different forms.

"The Devil made me do it." And other devilish idioms.

Now, the VOA Learning English program Words and Their Stories.

Many expressions in American English come from the world of religion. Some common idioms are based on high, religious ideals. But today we look at the bad or evil side of religion.
The Devil is the most powerful spirit of evil in Christianity, Islam and other religions. The devil is clearly at work in these idioms and expressions.

Speaking of the devil, to speak of the devil means to talk about someone at the same time the person appears. Here's an example,  

“John and I are going to the movies tonight and … hey, speak of the devil! Here comes John now.

"Hey John! We were just talking about you … and speak of the devil you appear.”

Keep in mind, this expression does not mean that you think the individual is bad or evil.

It's just an issue of timing. But there are many devil expressions that do refer to bad behavior.

And sometimes when we behave badly, we blame the devil. We say the devil made me do it. 

Or we say something or someone brings out the devil in us. This means we blame someone else for our bad behavior. Let’s use it in a sentence.

“Boy, you are like a different person when your old friend from college comes around.”

“I know. I just can’t behave when he’s around. He really brings out the devil in me.”        

When we use this idiom, we really don’t mean evil behavior –more like being mischievous or causing light-hearted trouble. This is different than having a devil-may-care attitude.

Having a devil-may-care way of thinking means you are willing to push the limits more than most people. And you really don’t care what others think.

There is also the daredevil. A daredevil is a wild person who likes acting dangerously. A daredevil is, well, daring the devil – which can get you into trouble.
When you play devil’s advocate you say things you do not really believe just to start an argument or discussion. And, actually, this is often used in a good way.

Exactly. I could say, “Let me play devil’s advocate for a minute so we can see the other side of this issue.”

And teachers often play devil's advocate to create interesting discussions in the classroom.

But to make a deal with the devil is usually a bad idea. It means you want something so badly that you are willing to sacrifice something important for it – like your soul.

Often what you sacrifice is not really your soul but rather your morals or self-esteem. But you don’t have to sell your soul or make a deal with the devil to improve your English. Simply listen to VOA Learning English.

I’m Jonathan Evans.

And I’m Anna Matteo. And this was one devil of a Words and Their Stories.


Words in this Story
advocate n.=  a person who publicly supports or recommends a particular cause or policy

idle adj.  = not working, active, or being used

sacrifice n. = the act of giving up something that you want to keep especially in order to get or do something else or to help someone

mischievous  = showing a playful desire to cause trouble

dangerous – adj.

A man dresses as a "devil" by wearing a mask (center) during a traditional festival in Spain. (Feb. 2014)

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