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Halloween Traditions Around the World

Did you know that Halloween originates from Ireland, heading way back in the 8th century? The night of 31st October is when the world of the dead comes close to the world of the living. People believe that is when spirits come to Earth and spend time with their families. That’s why on the next 2 days, we honor the dead saints in the world and souls of the deceased members of the family.

From honoring and remembering the dead as well as scaring away evil spirits, Halloween has now evolved into a festival where all we do is dress-up, carve pumpkins into jack-o-lanterns and have delicious treats.

Here’s how different countries celebrate Halloween:

USA

In America, the main celebration takes place on 31st October, but the festive vibes start from the beginning of the month. People watch horror movies, visit scary houses and makes preparations for the big night.

Halloween parties are held on 31st October all across the country – both private and public. They’re all costume parties, where you’ll find people dressing up as anything. Today, not everyone will be dressed like a ghost or a witch here – you can find someone dressed as a rabbit and someone dressed as a pumpkin.

One thing that is common here is trick-or-treating. Whether you celebrate Halloween or not, kids will come to you for candies, so you better be prepared for that one.

Canada

Here too, you’ll have a one-day celebration of Halloween on 31st October. Here, people worship the goddess of fruit and trees, making the tradition of bobbing for apples very common here. While the trick-or-treating tradition has existed here since 1,000 AD, carved pumpkins and jack-o-lanterns didn’t show up till the 1800s.

Additionally, you’ll find two more interesting beliefs here – spider decorations that symbolize a loved one watching over you and single women eating walnuts, nutmeg and hazelnuts to find her true love. Interesting, isn’t it?

Latin America

Here, people celebrate all the 3 days of Halloween – from 31st October to 2nd November. On 31st night, they all celebrate throwing costume parties with pumpkin decorations and trick-or-treating. In Peru, people wear purple throughout the month of October, while on the 31st night they wear black and orange.

On 1st and 2nd November, people decorate the graves of their deceased family members and relatives with flowers and candies. They also make dishes and drinks that happen to be the deceased ones’ favorites.

UK

Halloween actually originates in Ireland. In Scotland as well as Ireland, you have a lot of bonfire nights taking place on the 31st with games and traditional foods. In fact, in Ireland you’ll also find many Halloween carnivals, fireworks, Halloween parades and ghost tours.

In England, Halloween parties have games for children, the most common one being bobbing for apples. People decorate their houses with spiders, skeletons and jack-o-lanterns. Children also do the trick-or-treat dressing up in scary costumes like witches and ghosts.

Romania

The biggest Halloween party takes place at Bran Castle in Transylvania here. It’s a costume party with blood cocktails and Halloween decorations that goes on till 4 AM in the morning. Since Bran Castle is said to be the birthplace of the Dracula, most people are dressed here as vampires or devils. Other than that, people use garlic here to scare away evil spirits.          

You can take a 3-day or a 7-day tour to Transylvania on the week of Halloween. You can take a tour of the entire castle and learn about their history. If you go for a week, you can also visit the town of Sibiu and the city of Sighisoara.

Spain

Here too, you’ll have a 3-day celebration from 31st October to 2nd November. The 1st day is known as the day of the witches. You’ll find many zombie parades going on in the south, where people are dressed as witches, vampires and goblins.

In the north-western parts of Spain, October 31st is witnessed as the night of the pumpkins. You’ll find plenty of jack-o-lanterns and other pumpkin decorations in almost every house. People make quemada, a hot alcoholic drink in pumpkins to scare away evil spirits.

Italy

Halloween night is quite happening here too, with plenty of pumpkin decorations, jack-o-lanterns, haunted houses and costume parties. You’ll find children doing the trick-or-treat in front of candy stores than going to houses. Now that’s a little smart idea, isn’t it?

However, it is the 1st of November, the All Saints Day that is a national holiday in the country. They mourn their deceased love ones on this day by cleaning their graves and offering fresh chrysanthemums. They also place a red candle at their window during sunset to welcome their souls home.

Germany

Halloween came to Germany only 25 years ago and has some unique traditions here. People don’t really enjoy the trick-or-treat tradition here, so children sing songs and recite poems holding lanterns to get their treats. The costumes that you’ll get here are strictly scary and so is the theme of the party.

While you’ll find pumpkin decorations and jack-o-lanterns for scaring away evil spirits, there’s another unique thing they do – hiding kitchen knives to prevent evils from using it.

Austria

We’ve known the Halloween night to be the night when we scare away evil spirits. However, in Austria things do work a little differently. What people do here on 31st night is offering bread, water and lanterns to the dead at night. Basically, they welcome the dead to the world warmly, particularly the good souls of their deceased family members.

You’ll also find plenty of pumpkin decorations surrounding you here. However, they’re different from the jack-o-lanterns. Most of them eat pumpkins here or decorate them differently than carving them.

Japan

Halloween came to Japan during the 1970s. Apart from little theme parties, you have parades taking place in Tokyo, which have become very popular. You have around 2,000 people dressing up in cosplay. There are street parties and flash mobs too, which makes all public places pretty crowded on that night.

However, you won’t find any of the typical Halloween traditions like pumpkin decorations at home or the trick-or-treat. In fact, there is nothing for children here. The Japanese only celebrate it for fun and are mostly enjoying on the streets.

Australia

Now Halloween is a little different here for some geographical reasons. During October, it is Spring here in Australia and the pumpkins grow in Autumn. So, any pumpkin decorations that you may find here won’t be real or at least locally grown. They’re either imported or fake, plastic ones.

The parties here are more or less the same – people dressed up in costumes, children going for their trick-or-treat and the decorations will have all the other symbols like bats, spiders, ghosts, skeletons, witches and black cats. You’ll even witness bonfire nights taking place.

Overall, Halloween around the world revolves around celebrating for the dead. We scare away the evil spirits and welcome the good ones on this day. The pumpkin is a universal symbol of this festival, used in almost all countries around the world. While in some countries the celebrations are strongly rooted in their oldest traditions, others have made it a more fun festival.

Nevertheless, 31st October is one of the most fun nights of the year today, no matter where you are. How do you plan to celebrate this year?

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