In America, we have a tradition of dressing up for Halloween and allowing kids to go trick-or-treating to collect candy from neighbors.
This holiday is typically one of fun, spooky characters, and mischief. Many people in our country love to decorate their homes for the event and some even open up their yards as a haunted area to scare their neighbors. Its fun to be scared in a safe environment and that’s our tradition. Let’s take a look at some of the Halloween traditions from other countries.
Ireland and Scotland -Samhain
Ireland and Scotland celebrate with a festival called Samhain. This festival celebrates the end of the light half of the year and it stems from ancient Celtic and Pagan rituals. Both countries celebrate with bonfires, games, and traditional food. One food is called bambrack which is an Irish fruitcake containing coins, buttons, and rings that signify different future fortunes for the recipient.
Mexico –Díade Los Muertos
The beginning of November brings us Díade Los Muertos or Day of the Dead to honor those who have passed away. The belief in Mexico is the Gates of Heaven open at midnight on October 31 and the souls of children return to Earth to be reunited with families for 24 hours. This holiday is celebrated with in-home altars full of fruit, peanuts, turkey, soda, hot chocolate, and pan de muerto.
Romania –Day of Dracula
With Transylvania, Romania being the legendary home of Dracula, there are many Halloween celebrations at the fabled Bran Castle. People from all over the world visit for the tours and parties at Count Dracula’s castle. While there’s no historical proof that Vlad “The Impaler” Tempe ever lived or visited the place, it had become a location of legend and a tourist favorite during Halloween.
Japan –Kawasaki Halloween Parade
Kawasaki, Japan, a city just outside Tokyo, hosts the largest Halloween parade in the country. For the past few decades, nearly 4000 costumed enthusiasts have gathered for this parade. Not everyone can simply join in, you have to be approved and pass the strict guidelines. Application for entry begins two months before the parade, which makes it one of the most competitive Halloween celebrations in the world.
The Philippines –Pangangaluluwa
Early celebrations of Pangangaluluwa was a tradition where children in The Philippines went door to door in costume to sing and ask for prayers for those stuck in purgatory. This ritual has been supplanted by trick-or-treating in recent years, some towns in the country work to keep the main form of the tradition alive. This is often accomplished with a local fundraiser and monetary donations rather than the handing out of candy.
Hong Kong –The Hungry Ghost Festival
The Hungry Ghose Festival in Hong Kong takes place on the 15thday of the seventh lunar month, which means it spans from around mid-August to mid-September. In East Asia, people believe spirits get restless at this time of year and this festival is a way to feed them with both food and money they will need. The Hungry Ghost Festival is part of a larger month-long celebration.
India –Pitru Paksha
The celebration of Pitru Paksha lasts sixteen days during the second Paksha of the Hindu lunar month of Bhadrapada. This celebration follows a belief that the Hindu god of death, Yama, takes the soul to purgatory where the last three generations of family are located. During Pitru Paksha, the souls are briefly allowed to return to Earth to be with their families. There are rituals performed to ensure a family’s place in the afterlife.
Poland –Dzien Zaduszny
During the early part of November, people across Poland travel to cemeteries to visit the graves of their family members. The celebration of Dzien Zaduszny is similar to All Souls’ Day for Catholics and is celebrated with candles, flowers, and an offering of prayers for departed relatives. On the second day, people attend a requiem mass for the souls of the dead. This is a beautiful way to remember those who have passed before them.
Nigeria –Awuru Odo Festival
The Awuru Odo Festival in Nigeria marks the return of dearly departed friends and family members back to the living. This celebration can last up to six months with a celebration of feasts, music, and masks before the dead return to the spirit world. This is an important festival, but it is celebrated only once every two years, which is when it is believed the spirits return to Earth.
Cambodia –Pchum Ben
Celebrated from the end of September to the middle of October in Cambodia, Pchum Ben is a religious gathering of families to celebrate the dead. People give foods like sticky rice and beans wrapped in banana leaves and visit temples to offer baskets of flowers as a way of paying respect to the deceased. This is a time of celebration for the elderly as well, giving them respect and homage.
In Italy, All Saints’ Day, which is November 1, is a national holiday. This holiday is better known as Ognissanti and it’s a celebration with festivities beginning a couple of days before. People often bring fresh flowers to be placed on the graves of departed loved ones, and they place red candles in windows at sunset. Many will set a place at the table for those spirits they hope will pay them a visit during the celebration.
Worldwide –All Saints’ Day and All Souls’ Day
The Catholic religion is the largest in the world and many Catholics celebrate All Saints’ Day on November 1, followed by All Souls’ Day on November 2. This is an annual time to honor the lives of the saints who died for their Catholic beliefs and to pray for the souls of dead family members. Many go to mass or visit the graves of loved ones at this time.
Halloween is a time to celebrate, remember, and enjoy with traditions that come from around the world. Just think, while you are out trick-or-treating this year, in other countries, there are different forms of celebration going on.