Halloween is a spooky tradition that captivates the entire world in different forms and Halloween traditions; today, most of us visualize Halloween as a celebration of dressing up as ghostly creatures and begging for candy. However, its roots stem further back in time, focusing on religious superstitions and catholic and European folk tales. One of the core originations of the festival of Halloween is honoring the dead, which still remains a prominent feature in many countries, though interestingly in some places, the true meaning has been pushed into the shadows. Discover the various ways in which different cultures celebrate the same tradition of Halloween around the world, and prepare to be spooked!
Table of Contents
The Austrian tradition for Halloween is to leave bread, water and a lit lamp out before they sleep on the eve of Halloween. The reason for this is they believe it welcomes back the dead to earth, and welcomes strong cosmic energies; spooky!
Historically, English children used to carve ‘punkies’ from large beet roots, and carry them into the streets, swinging them whilst chanting songs and asking for money. In modern day England, American Halloween traditions of trick or treating have been adopted instead of the native Halloween routines of ‘punkies’.
Halloween festivities in china are known as Teng Chieh. Food and water is placed in front of photographs of deceased family members, and lanterns are lit to light the path for spirits as they travel to the earth on the night of Halloween.
Contemporary celebrations include carving Jack O’Lanterns in order to mark the arrival of Scottish and Irish immigrants in the 1800. Canadians go crazy in smothering their homes and offices in Halloween decorations and engaging in seasonal festivities.
Interestingly, the French hold little association with celebrating Halloween. They tend to regard it as an American holiday and rarely engage in anything that comes alongside the festivities; it was also barely acknowledged until the late 1990s.
In Hong Kong, Halloween is known as Yue Lan, festival of the hungry ghosts. They believe that the spirits return to earth and roam for 24 hours; some people burn pictures of fruit, money or other objects they claim important, believing that they will reach the spirits and provide them with comfort.
In Japan, instead of Halloween they celebrate the ‘Obon Festival’, which is fairly similar. During the festival, the Japanese enjoy a range of special foods and hang bright red lanterns everywhere and also set them afloat on rivers. A fire is lit every night so spirits can locate where their family home is and return.
Nothing compares to Mexico at Halloween. Their equivalent is referred to as ‘Dia de los Muertos’ meaning the day of the dead, and the whole country goes wild in celebrations and honoring the lives of lost ones. The festivities occur for 7 days straight, and feature full on the remembrance of the dead, stories are told and shared, and parades of skeletons flock the streets. All hell breaks loose throughout even the smallest of towns in Mexico during Halloween, through vast celebration of the dead and lots of tequila.
America famously steers away from true Halloween traditions with its modern approach to full on festivities and manic celebrations of the holiday. Popularized by the self-indulgent trend of children trick of treating around neighborhoods, and out of control, large scale events and celebrations, Americans celebrate Halloween as one big party rather than honoring the dead or remembering true traditions.
As the birthplace of Halloween, celebrations for this season are wild. Bonfires are lit and traditional foods are served, including Barmbrack, which is a traditional Irish fruit cake that holds the power of fortune telling; each cake holds objects like buttons and coins that represent different future paths. Children also revel in the trick or treating tradition, but with a twist, they knock on doors and then run away! No candy for them.
In Germany, on Halloween, everyone apparently hides their knives as a means of protecting spirits from falling on them when they return to earth. It is known as All Saints Day, where saints who died for the catholic faith are honored and remembered.
The festivities in Korea are known as ‘Chusok’, and include Halloween traditions of thanking families for the fruits of their labor. Koreans visit family tombs and make offerings as a way of remembering and honoring their lost ones. Chusok occurs in August, rather than October when most other countries celebrate Halloween.
The swedes refer to Halloween as ‘Alla Helgons Dag’ which runs from October 31st to November 6th. It is so important it is regarded as almost like a national holiday, with a shortened working day and instead a day of celebration.
In Czech, people place chairs by the fire on Halloween’s eve, representing one for each living family member, and one chair for their spirit. Creepy or what?!
In Belgium, it is believed that it is unlucky for a black cat to cross your path, or if it enters a home or a ship. Apart from these superstitions, Belgians light candles in memory of dead relatives and carry out fairly similar traditions to countries like England.
Halloween comes in all different names, seasons and traditions, that all follow a similar pattern of spookiness. If you enjoyed reading about all of the different worldwide Halloween traditions, make sure you share this article around!