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How Halloween is Celebrated Around the World

Halloween in Different Countries

Halloween is just around the corner and the decorations and spooky vibes are spreading around like a virus. The holiday is extremely popular in the United States, with over $9 billion in spending predicted. However, how is Halloween celebrated in other countries, if at all?

Snap Apple painting by Daniel Maclise (via Wikimedia Commons)
Daniel Maclise via Wikimedia Commons

First, we need to visit where Halloween started, Ireland. Here, the holiday is celebrated similarly to the United States with costumes, trick-or-treating and even ding-dong-ditch. Differences include bonfires, treasure hunts and card games involving candy. A game called “snap-apple” is popular, where players attempt to bite a hanging apple that is attached to a doorframe or tree by a string.

In Austria, people will leave food items on a table to welcome the dead souls back on earth. Belgians light candles on Halloween night in memory of dead relatives. In Czechoslovakia, chairs are placed by the fireside on Halloween night instead. The chairs represent each living family member and their spirit. Germans hide their knives for safety to and from spirits.

The festival similar to Halloween in Korea is  “Chusok.” Taking place in August, families thank their ancestors by visiting their tombs and making offerings of rice and fruits. In Sweden, Halloween is known as “Alla Helgons Dag” and is celebrated from October 31 until November 6.

Unlike most nations of the world, Halloween is not celebrated by the French in order to honor the dead. It is regarded as a “U.S.” holiday in France and is rather controversial.

Masked men celebrate Halloween in China
Image credit: Jonathan Kos-Read via Flickr

In China, the Halloween festival is known as Teng Chieh. Food and water are placed in front of photographs of family members who have departed. “Pretas” are the spirits of those who died as a result of an accident and whose bodies were consequently never buried. The presence of “pretas” among the living is thought by the Chinese to be dangerous.

The Halloween celebration in Hong Kong is known as “Yue Lan” (Festival of the Hungry Ghosts). Spirits roam the world for 24 hours. Some people burn pictures of fruit or money; these images would reach the spirit world and bring comfort to the ghosts.

Japan celebrates the “Obon Festival” and is dedicated to the spirits of ancestors. Special foods are prepared and bright red lanterns are hung everywhere. A fire is lit every night to show the ancestors where families might be found. On the 13th, an altar is set up with food offerings and fires are set in front of the house to guide the spirits. People On the evening of the 15th “send-off” fires are lit, and the spirits return to their graves.

Among Spanish-speaking nations Halloween is known as “El Dia de los Muertos.” This is a three-day celebration that begins on the evening of October 31. It was originally intended to celebrate children and the dead. Many families construct an altar in their home and decorate it with candy, flowers, photographs, fresh water and samples of the deceased’s favorite foods. The graves are adorned with flowers and wreaths. 

Dia de los Muertos (Image by Andy Giraud from Pixabay)
Dia de los Muertos (Image by Andy Giraud from Pixabay)

On the evening of November 5, bonfires are lit throughout England. The English stopped celebrating Halloween when Martin Luther’s Protestant Reformation began to spread. However, a new ritual did emerge. Guy Fawkes Day festivities were designed to commemorate the execution of English traitor Guy Fawkes.

No matter how different countries celebrate Halloween, it is clear to see that everyone values the memories of the loved ones who have passed. If you want to read more about the different Halloween traditions, click here

By Avalera

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