What is the first thing that comes to your mind when you think of Halloween? Crooked-faced Jack-o-lanterns, people dressing up in spooky costumes, kids going around the neighborhood asking people for money and candy, or humming the song “something wicked this way comes”? Well, these are only the most prominent Halloween traditions, that we’re sure that everyone knows. We have some here that you wouldn’t know!
Read on to know about 8 fascinating Halloween traditions around the world.
While you’re at it, here’s how to plan your trip if you are visiting around Halloween time!
#1 Mexico, Latin America
Sugar skulls, marigolds, and butterflies replace the pumpkins, witches and black cats in the Mexican Halloween celebrations. The Latin Halloween, called ‘El Dia de Los Muertos’ which means ‘The day of the dead’, is a three-day celebration. The butterflies are said to represent the spirits of the dead, the Mexican marigolds are placed around the graves of the dead, and sugar skulls are placed on the graves of kids who have passed away. The Halloween celebrations in Mexico are something unique indeed!
An extravagant parade is held around the city where people dress themselves in scary costumes and dance their way around, the most popular dancing being ‘The dance of the little old men’ where kids dress up as old men and put up an impromptu dance in the middle of the parade!
How well can you peel apples? No, not to eat it, but to predict your future partner!
This traditional form of soothsaying in Scotland is an age-old tradition practised at the time of Halloween – to predict your prospective other.
The process is quite simple – just peel the apple whole (at one go) and put the peel behind your back, and the shape in which the peel lands is the first letter of your future spouse’s name!
#3 The United Kingdom
Jack-o-lanterns are perhaps the best and the most popular part of the Halloween celebrations. Did you know that Jack-o-lanterns were first carved out from turnips and beetroots? The term Jack-o-lantern itself means ‘night watchman’ or ‘man with a lantern’ and is said to have been coined originally in the U.K and not in the USA.
Children in the UK used to make these lanterns at home and walk from house to house at the night to ask for money. There is also another popular belief that lanterns made out of pumpkins were lit outside people’s homes to ward off any evil spirits that approached their families.
Also see: 13 reasons to visit the United Kingdom
Halloween is widely known as ‘All Saints Day’ in Austria, in honour of the Catholic saints and martyrs who had given their lives for the well being of people. As it is also the season of the pumpkin harvest, the Austrians celebrate the festival with colourful parades, parties and of course, a lot of pumpkins. Church services are conducted in memoriam of the martyrs.
Going by the popular beliefs that the spirits of the former members of the family return to the mortal world during Halloween, people in Austria keep bread and a glass of water on a table and keep the lights on for the whole week of Halloween, as an act of rejoice in marking the arrival of the spirits.
Barmbrack is not just another traditional Irish sweetbread baked during Halloween. Apart from nuts and rum-soaked raisins, it contains your future!
Cut open the cake to find a tiny muslin cloth-wrapped surprise inside.
Though many people associate Halloween to dressing up in scary costumes and colourful candy, Ireland is one country that takes it to an entirely different level by including future predictions!
Get a ring, it means that love is in the air. Get a coin, it means that fortune is going to favor you soon!
Halloween celebrations in Germany are a thing of the younger people because the older generations don’t want to embrace anything American (Oh, the rivalry!). The custom for Halloween is somewhat similar to that in Austria, where the people not only keep food for the returning spirits but also make sure that they keep all knives and sharp objects away before going to bed to prevent the spirits from getting hurt or hurting themselves.
Instead of the mainstream ‘trick-or-treats?’, children go around reciting poems and singing songs in exchange for sweetmeats!
Halloween is a festival which is usually associated with the Western countries, and when one learns that the Chinese celebrate the festival too, it is sure to pique the curiosity.
Unlike the usual pumpkin carving and dressing up, the Chinese Halloween has got much more to it. The Chinese celebrate their Halloween as ‘Teng Chieh’ which translates to ‘The Feast of Hungry Ghosts’. It is essentially feeding the spirits who return to the mortal world, by lighting up bonfires and lamps to guide them and by placing fattening foods in front of their life-size pictures so that they can store as much fat as they can before the winter approaches (carb overload!)
#8 Czech Republic
For the Czechs, Halloween is essentially the ‘Commemoration of the Departed’, and it not observed on October 31 like the rest of the world. This Halloween-like festival is celebrated on October 2nd, where people visit the graves of their dear departed and place wreaths on their graves.They also light a small bonfire near the grave and put chairs around it so that they can sit and talk to their dear ones who have left this mortal world. Unlike the rest of the world, the Czechs don’t see this as a celebration; they sink into reminiscence, mourning the departure of the besotted souls.
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