Happy Halloween

Every year on October 31st, people dress up and enjoy a fun, festive holiday. Some costumes are silly, some frightening and some which are very creative. In recent history, Halloween has been viewed as a fun and festive event filled with parades, candy and even some tricks! This is such a fun time that everyone must do this right? Well, yes and no. Here is a look at how some other countries around the world celebrate this masked holiday.

Latin America: Probably one of the most closely related celebrations is Dia de los Muertos which is celebrated in most Latin American countries including Spain and Mexico. Beginning on Oct. 31st and continuing until Nov. 2nd, families will build tributes and alters (sometimes quite elaborate) to their deceased friends and families. Many families will also spend a day in the cemetery at the grave sites of those passed. This isn’t a somber occasion though, as most participants view this day as a cause for celebration of the lives and continued protection of those who have passed.

England: Although Halloween is making a comeback in England, it was not, and is not seen as quite the celebration we hold here across the pond. As many in Great Britain are Protestant, they do not believe in Saints, and as such had no reason to celebrate All Saints Day (Nov. 1st) which was the precursor to Halloween (All Hallows Eve). The British celebrate Guy Fawkes Day on Nov. 5th. Fawkes (who was Catholic) is most famously known for attempting to blow up Parliament in 1606 in an attempt to overthrow King James. The Pilgrims even celebrated Guy Fawkes Day when they first arrived here, but over time the tradition died out in favor of Halloween.

Europe: Many European countries do celebrate Halloween (which originated in Ireland) in the same manner as we do here in America, with parades, and trick or treating. Many cultures, however, believe that the Jack O’ Lantern must be placed at the entry gate or lamp post of your property to protect you from evil spirits who roam the countryside on that night. In Austria it is customary to leave a treat outside and the lights on to welcome back your lost relatives during the only period when souls can visit the mortal world.

Asia: Although Halloween as we know it is still a foreign concept in many Asian countries, it is catching on more each year. Many countries do celebrate a Souls or Saints Day in a similar fashion as Latin American countries. In some countries such as the Philippines it is a tradition to go to door and sing carols in order to collect alms for the dead. This is their version of trick-or-treating.

Fun Facts:

In many places in Europe it is traditional to use turnips and gourds instead of pumpkins for carving. Pumpkins are not native to many parts of Europe.

In some places in the U.S., Halloween is referred to as Cabbage Night.

Bonfires are a contraction of the term Bone Fires. Bone Fires reaches as far back as medieval times used for both punishment and funerary purposes. After standard burials became common, people would burn bone fires in effigy. Bone Fires became bonfires.


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