Halloween - Jack O Lantern

PodCast : The Halloween Episode

VivaLing lance The English VivaLing Podcasts pour aider tous ses élèves, petits et grands, à apprendre l’anglais en parlant de culture, de traditions et d’histoire.

Retrouvez le 1e podcast de VivaLing sur Halloween ici ou sur Apple ou Spotify

Et pour ceux qui souhaitent lire le texte en même temps qu’ils l’écoutent, voici la retranscription intégrale du podcast sur Halloween.

Welcome to the VivaLing English podcast.

As you know we are getting closer to the end of October. The end of October is famous for many things. Beautiful leaves on the trees, the days getting shorter in the north, but longer in the south and of course; Halloween.

The way people celebrate Halloween today is similar in some ways to the way that it was celebrated 2000 years ago. One difference is that it wasn`t called Halloween 2000 years ago. It was called Samhain. The ancient Celts, people from places in Northern Europe like Brittany in France, Wales and Scotland in the UK and Ireland believed that the beginning of winter was a time when the spirits of the dead returned to the earth. And maybe they were right.

One of the things children enjoy the most about Halloween is the sweets or candies. Families buy candies in the US to give trick or treaters and also for their own use. But how much money do you think Americans are expected to spend on candy this year?.

Is it :

A 10 million dollars

B 500 million dollars

C 2.6 billion dollars

Think about it. If your answer is right- you can have a candy. But I`m not going to tell you now. At the end of the podcast you will discover the answer.

Let`s look at some of the traditions connected with Halloween and choose one story that hopefully will not be too scary for you.


What is trick or treat? Trick or treating is when children knock on your door and offer either a Trick or treat.. This means that if you give them something nice to eat they will go away. If you don`t they will play a trick on you. For example, by frightening you with their costumes and masks. If you don`t want the kids to do something bad it is best to give them a treat- which means something special and nice.

But what I want to look at in more detail is the legend of the jack o’lantern.

These days it is very popular for families to take a pumpkin, hollow it out, carve a face into it and light a candle inside it. It looks cool and scary. But why? And why is it called a jack `o lantern?


The story comes from Ireland and it is about a man called Stingy Jack.

Jack was a bad man. He was mean and stingy. He never helped anybody and tried to keep everything for himself. That`s what stingy means. He also loved playing tricks on other people. One day he decided to trick the devil.

He persuaded the devil to climb an apple tree, and then he put crosses under the tree. The devil was stuck up the tree because he couldn’t go near to the crosses. Jack made a deal with the devil. He said that if he removed the crosses, the devil had to promise that he would not let him go to hell when he died. The devil agreed.

But when Jack died , God wouldn’t let him into heaven either so poor old Jack had nowhere to go. He could’t go to heaven or hell. So he had to wander around the darkness for ever.

The only thing he had was a bit of fire the devil had given him and an old turnip, which is a vegetable a bit like a big and ugly potato.

The Irish people started putting up vegetables with lights inside them to keep Stingy Jack away from their houses on Halloween. That`s why it is called a JACK O LANTERN.

Great story, but were you really paying attention?

If you were you will be able to tell me if these sentences are right— or wrong!!


  • A stingy man is someone who likes helping his neighbours.

Wrong- a stingy man is mean and does not help anybody.

  • Jack tricked God by getting him to climb a banana tree.

Wrong – he tricked the devil – and it was an apple tree – not a banana tree.

  • The devil was afraid of the crosses..

RIGHT – devils are always afraid of crosses.

  • Jack asked the devil to send him to heaven

WRONG he asked the devil not to send him to hell.

  • People from Ireland are afraid of Jack

RIGHT..and so am I….


Now – when you start making your jack o lantern for Halloween you know the story behind it.. To show us that you understand and enjoyed this story make sure your jack o lantern has something from the story of Stingy Jack. Maybe an apple tree , or Jack`s ugly face, or the devil .. Take a photo and send it to us at VivaLing. You can either show it to your coach or put it on our Facebook page. The best Jack o Lantern with a reference to the story will get one free session.

Thank you for listening , but before we finish, I have to answer the question from the beginning of the podcast. Do you remember the question?

Americans spend a lot of money on candy for Halloween but how much will they spend this year?

10 million, 500 million or 2.6 billion dollars.. If you said 2.6 billion, your answer is right.. Americans spent an incredible 2.6 billion dollars on candy… That would buy 300,000 tonnes of candy.. which would be the same size as 6 Titanics… pretty amazing.

But remember candy is bad for your teeth, so have some, but not too much…

Happy Halloween.