Halloween Around The World

Halloween is a holiday that was established many years before our generation. We are accustomed to the way we celebrate it: eating pumpkin flavored goodies, trick-or-treating and dressing up in costumes. However, there are a variety of different traditions and rituals that take place in other countries around the world. Some of these traditions are still celebrated to this day, but others have changed over time.

England

When Halloween became popular in the United States, England chose not to participate in it because of the Martin Luther Protestant Reform. They did not believe in saints, so they did not feel a need to partake in this festivity. Instead, they celebrated Guy Fawkes Day. This took place on November 5th and had similarities to Halloween, but had little to do with it. On Guy Fawkes day, the English would light bonfires and burn effigies, which were sculptures of people, such as Guy Fawkes. After all of this burning, children would each take an effigy and go knocking on neighbors’ doors asking for money, which was comparable to trick-or-treating. Over the past years, Guy Fawkes Day has become less frequently celebrated, and Halloween has become much more popular. England’s Halloween traditions today are actually very alike to ours.

 

Germany

Trick-or-treating in Germany isn’t as popular as it is in America. The reason for this is that almost two weeks after Halloween, they participate in St Martin’s Day. The event that takes place this day is similar to trick-or-treating except that they go around to houses with lanterns, and they have to sing songs in order to receive candy. A popular ritual that most Germans partake in is the hiding of their knives. They believe that the spirits who return will hurt themselves on the knives, so they put them away before the night comes.

 

Ireland

Ireland is where Halloween first originated. The way they celebrate it in this country is quite similar to the way we celebrate it in the United States. Bonfires are lit to keep the evil spirits away, and costumes are worn as disguises from those spirits. In the afternoon, children go door-to-door asking for treats, which is followed by a grand party with friends and family. At these gatherings, many entertaining games are played, such as “snap-apple”. “Snap-apple” is a popular and festive game in which an apple is tied to a tree, and everyone gets a chance to try to bite it off (almost like apple bobbing). Another prominent custom that takes place in Ireland is the “future-predicting” food they eat. Barnbrack is a fruitcake that is stuffed inside with a Muslim treat, which can foresee your future. A ring means that you will be wed soon, while a straw means a year full of prosper. Although Ireland’s traditions slightly differ from those of the United States, many that we have here did initially originate from theirs.

 

Japan

The main difference between Halloween in Japan and the United States is that there is no such thing as “trick-or-treating” in Japan. Yep, you read that right. It’s unusual to think about that since we are so adapted to knocking on neighbors’ doors each year asking for candy. Although there is no trick-or-treating, they still do dress up in costumes and go out to celebrate; however, it’s more of an adult holiday than a children’s.

 

Latin America, Mexico, Spain

In Latin America, Mexico and Spain, it is believed that their loved ones who have passed return home on Halloween Day, which they call “Dia De Los Muertos”. The English translation of this, which most of us are probably aware of, is “Day of the Dead”. In order to prepare for their arrival, people set up altars inside their houses with flowers, pictures and candies. They also light candles and burn incense so the departed can find their way home. This remembrance lasts for three days, beginning on October 31 and ending on November 2. The first day of November is dedicated to the children who have passed, while the second day is devoted to the adults. On the last day of this tribute, families and friends gather around the gravesites of their deceased loved ones to recall all of their memories. They bring food and alcohol to feast as well as a mariachi band, in some cases. This is a popular celebration that is, for the most part, known all around the world. Remember that sugar skull mask you wore last year for Halloween? This is where the idea came from.

 

Have a happy Halloween and safe trick-or-treating!