We all love Halloween; however, do you know how did it all started? Each culture celebrates their own unique version of Halloween – remembering the dead, celebrating life and afterlife, appeasing spirits and more. Ever wondered exactly how is Halloween celebrated around the world? Us too! That’s why we did a little research and we’re presenting you the most fascinating (and bizarre) traditions from around the globe.
Where did Halloween come from?
Halloween is a favourite tradition in the West, which historians believe was adopted from an ancient Celtic festival, Samhain. People would light bonfires and wear costumes to scare ghosts. The holiday of All Saints’ Day took some of these traditions and was known as All Hallows’ Eve before it became the modern-day Halloween. The carved-out pumpkins, on the other hand, come from an Irish folktale. The Irish used to carve faces in their turnips and potatoes.
Mexico – Día de Los Muertos (Day of the Dead)
Every year on 1st of November, Mexico honours the dead with colourful and lively celebrations. Instead of mourning the deceased, they’ve chosen to honour them with great festivities at the so-called “Day of the Dead” festival. Día de los Muertos considers death to be a natural part of the human experience. Mexicans would normally dress in bright clothes; wear flowers and skeletons and skulls are painted all over their faces.
Hong Kong – Yue Lan (Festival of Hungry Ghosts)
Locals celebrate Festival of Hungry Ghost in September and they believe ghosts roam for 24 hours around the world. Some burn pictures of fruits and money as they believe these images would reach the spirit world and bring comfort to all ghosts. People light fires and offer food and gifts to please potentially angry ghosts seeking revenge.
Nepal – Gai Jatra (Festival of Cows)
Gai Jatra is a popular Nepalese festival of cows which also commemorates the death of people over the past year. The celebration features a cow parade as well as people wearing costumes of Hindu gods. Everyone caries photos of loved ones, adorned with flowers, and they all dance together.
Romania – Day of Dracula
Enthusiasts and fans of Dracula flock from all over the world to celebrate Halloween at Vlad “The Impaler” Tepes’ home at Bran Castle in Transylvania, Romania. The all-night party at Dracula’s castle is very popular and is truly a spooky one-of-a-kind experience.
Ireland – Banks of the Foyle
We already know that Halloween is believed to be a Celtic holiday which was first celebrated in Ireland. Londonberry hosts Europe’s largest Halloween carnival – Banks of the Foyle – which offers everything from a massive parade to an interactive haunted house experience.
Japan – Obon (Day of the Ancestors)
This Japanese Budhist Festival lasts for 3 days between July and August (depending on which part of the country you are in). Locals tend to take part in family gatherings, cleaning graves and they visit places associated with each family’s history. It’s a Japanese tradition of more than 500 years and includes a popular ceremonial dance known as “Bon-Odori”.
North & Central Europe – Walpurgis Night (Witches night)
A lot of European countries such as Germany, the Netherlands, Sweden, Finland, the Baltic States, Slovakia andm ore celebrate Walpurgis Night on 30th April every year. The celebration started more than 1000 years ago by the Christians of Germany for battling “pest, rabies and whooping cough, as well as against witchcraft.” People nowadays would drink sparkling wine, host lavish picnics, play pranks and light large bonfires.
Haiti – Fed Gede (Festival of the Ancestors)
Fed Gede is a Voodoo holiday celebration in some parts of Haiti as well as various Voodoo communities around the world. It’s traditional to drink rum with chillies, light candles and visit ancestors’ burial places.
China – Teng Chieh (The Lantern Festival)
In China during Ten Chieh people light up bonfires and lanterns. Locals believe that they would light the path of the spirits as they travel the world on Halloween night. In Buddhist temples people usually built paper boats are later burn them. Chinese believe in this way they will remember the dead and free the spirits of anyone whose body hasn’t been buried, so they can all go to Heaven.
Cambodia – Pchum Ben (Ancestors’ Day)
Pchum Ben is a 15-day celebration in Cambodia, culminating at the beginning of October. During this religious festival locals light candles for ancestors, organise family gathering and buffalo races. Before the final day, monks chant through the night signalling the opening of the gates to Hell.
Feeling inspired? Take a look at our article Britain’s Most Spooky Spots for a Halloween Trip for unforgettable getaway ideas within the UK.
Suggested Shopping for celebrating Halloween:
For Halloween costumes and decorations check The Works and Argos. To find the best deals on try Tesco, Morrison’s, Sainsbury. For quick getaways check Lastminute.com, Expedia, Easy Jet. For spooky Halloween experiences try Red Letter Days, Groupon and Virgin Experience Days.