Halloween Around the World


Did you know Halloween is actually rooted in Celtic traditions? Samhain is the pagan name for it, meaning "Summer's End." It means the end of the harvest season and symbolizes the divide between the world of the living and the dead. They still honor it in Scotland and on the Isle of Man. They celebrate it with festivities that include bonfires and dancing. Now, that sounds like my type of Halloween, I'm from Burrillville, so I love a good bonfire, and you know I'm always down to dance.

SUMMERS END FESTIVAL

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The commercialized version of Halloween is slowly taking over the UK, but originally is their big holiday this time of year, celebrated on November 5th. However, when they do celebrate Halloween, it's not the same as here in America. They stick to more traditional scary costumes like vampires mummies zombies, well we tend to go for pop culture costumes. They also don't decorate for Halloween as much as we do, usually they keep it simple with just a pumpkin. Candy is very different, certain American candies you can't get over in the UK and vice versa. Trick or treating is more common in the US than the UK. They usually buy the candy for themselves and stay in and watch a scary movie rather than hand it out to children. However, the tradition of trick-or-treating came from a Scottish and Irish tradition called "guising" they would dress children up in old clothes, and they would go around warding off evil spirits from home and would get rewarded for it with some type of treat. Another Scottish and Irish tradition is carving a jack-o'-lantern from a rutabaga or a turnip instead of a pumpkin.

Mischief night, which originated over in the UK, is also celebrated here. It's the night when everyone pulls pranks, like toilet papering someone's house or plastic wrapping someone's car. Haha!

Lewes Bonfire Societies Put On Annual November 5th Display

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One of my personal favorite ways Halloween is celebrated is in the Latin American culture. El Día de los muertos, also known as Day of the Dead. It's a 3-day celebration from October 31st to November 2nd! Families make an altar in their home to honor loved ones they have lost. They include photographs of the deceased as well as offerings of their favorite foods and drinks, and treats like those beautiful candy skulls. I'd never want to eat those, they're so gorgeous. They even leave a bowl of water and a towel, so the spirits can wash up before they feast. On the final day of the feast they gather at their loved one's gravestones, they decorate them and sing, dance, and some even drink tequila! I remember learning all about that in my Spanish class in high school, and we got to make our own altars, it was really cool!

People pray besideth grave of a relative

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Other countries have their version of Halloween as well:

In Northern Ireland, they have a four-day Halloween festival, called the Banks of the Foyle Carnival. It's basically a carnival on steroids; they celebrate with a parade and haunted houses and more!

Europe's Largest Halloween Carnival

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Fed Gede, or "Festival of the Ancestors," is a Voodoo holiday celebrated in Haiti. It's similar to The Day of the Dead, they like candles and go to their ancestors grave sites and drink rum and celebrate.

haiti-religion-VOODOO

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China celebrates Hungry Ghost Day but that starts in August and ends in September. Their festivities include food offerings for the deceased, as well as performances and parades and even operas in honor of the spirits.

Taiwanese Celebrate Hungry Ghost Festival

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Tutti i Morti, or All Souls' Day is celebrated in Italy on November 1st. They carve pumpkins to remember loved ones, called "Concas de Mortu," meaning "heads of the dead."

Concas de Mortu

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Poland has their version as well called, Zaduszki. They go to their ancestor's gravestones and decorate them with things like lanterns and wreaths, and even leave little gifts.

POLAND ALL SAINTS DAY

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In the Philippines they celebrate, Pangangaluluwâ, on November 1st, and they do their own version of trick or treating. They go door to door singing songs for treats.

Filipinos Sho Komari (L), his sister Ber Trick-or-Treating

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Japan celebrates Obon, it's a Buddhist festival including ceremonial dances and a journey to the grave sites and other special places of their loved ones and ancestors.

Dekansho Folk Festival

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Pchum Ben is a 15-day-long festival in Cambodia, it includes lots of feasting and buffalo races. It wraps up with monks chanting at night, and apparently opening the gates of 'Hell.'

CAMBODIA-FESTIVAL

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Meanwhile, over in Nepal the people who have lost loved ones walk cows through the streets for, Gai Jatra, also known as Festival of Cows. The belief is the cows help those who passed find their way to heaven.

NEPAL'S Festival of Cows

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I think it's really cool the different ways that people celebrate Halloween around the world and yet there's still so many similarities, when it comes down to it, it's just a day for remembering and celebrating our loved ones, the ones that have passed and the ones that are still with us! Ironically All Hallows Eve/ The Day of the Dead is really a celebration of life!


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