Halloween traditions around the world are as varied as the different cultures and communities celebrating the festival; the only common connect being the supernatural element. Being one of the world’s oldest traditions, Halloween customs and rituals have certainly evolved in their own ways in different regions of the world. Here’s a quick peek at how the world celebrates Halloween!
United States of America: The King of all Halloween Celebrations
Halloween is big business in America! In fact, it is the second most commercial holiday after Christmas. A common activity right before Halloween is visiting pumpkin patches and picking the best ones for carving Jack o’lanterns. Today, the modern imagery of Halloween comes from different sources like Gothic literatures, Christian beliefs, classic horror movies, etc. Themed Halloween parties are also quite a rage.
Ireland: This is Where it all Started!
Halloween is thought to have been inspired from the ancient Celtic ritual of Samhain, where it was believed that on the 1st of Nov, the dead returned to the land of the living. So on the previous night, people would keep food and wine on their doorstep to feed and appease the dead.
They would even go about their business wearing masks and long gowns, so that the ghosts would mistake them as one of their own. This ritual was later Christianized and called “All Saint’s Day” or “All Hallows” from where Halloween got its name.
Great Britain: Guy Fawkes Day
Up till recently, Halloween was not celebrated in Britain after the spread of Martin Luther’s Protestant Reformation. Since the new religion didn’t have saints, so there wasn’t any point in celebrating “All Saints Day”. However, with increased commercialization, Britain is beginning to latch onto the Halloween inspired by the USA.
France: La Fête d’Halloween
French do not celebrate Halloween to honour the dead. It is largely regarded as an “American” holiday, and is thus not very openly accepted by many French people. However, in the last decade or so, Halloween has become an accepted concept. Stores, restaurants, malls, offices, and homes are lavishly decorated and pastry and candy shops dish out special Halloween-themed desserts and candies. Costume parties are also quite a hit with the youngsters.
Japan: Obon Festival
The Obon festival is Japan’s version of the Halloween. This day marks one of the two important occasions in the Japanese calendar when the dead are believed to descend on earth. Candles and red lamps are lit to show spirits of deceased family members the way back home.
Spain and Latin America: El Dia De Las Muertos
One of the interesting Halloween traditions around the world can be seen in many Spanish-speaking nations, particularly Mexico. Here, Halloween is celebrated as “El Dia de los Muertos” (the day of the dead). This is a 3-day celebration commencing from the evening of 31st October till 2nd November. This is practiced to remember and honour the dead and celebrate the continuity of life. Another common sight is the Halloween parade. People dress up as skeletons or other supernatural entities and dance on the streets.
In the past few years, India has also picked up some Halloween traditions and rituals from the West. More and more theme parties and Halloween special events are springing up each year.
China: Feast of the Hungry Ghost
China celebrates a similar festival known as the “Feast of the Hungry Ghost”. Bowls of food and water are placed in front of photographs of deceased family members and bonfires and lanterns are lit up in order to show the path to the spirits as they travel the earth on Halloween night to meet their living families. “Boats of the law” are fashioned from paper, which are then burned in the evening hours.
With these Halloween traditions around the world, get ready and have a Spooktacular Halloween 😉