It’s the Halloween season! These days, people all over the world are familiar with the American version of the holiday: costumes and trick-or-treating, fun-sized pumpkins, and candy.
Of course, that’s not the only way to celebrate. Here’s a quick look at some of the ways people around the world celebrate Halloween.
Ireland and Scotland – Samhain
The ancient Celtic festival of Samhain is the origin of Halloween. The origins of most of the famous Western Halloween traditions can be found here. In Samhain, people began to prepare for winter by taking their cattle from summer pastures and slaughtering the cattle. As summer melts into winter, it is believed that the boundary between the worlds of the living and the dead will also dissolve.
So for a night dead souls and spirits of fairies could easily pass into the physical world. People wear clothes to hide from evil spirits. Then, he used to go from house to house reciting poetry in exchange for food. The spirits of deceased ancestors are invited and bonfires are lit to ward off the darkness. Jack lanterns were carved from turnips to ward off evil spirits.
Some of these traditions, such as costumes, pumpkins, and trick-or-treating, carry over to Halloween today and are celebrated around the world. However, other Samhain traditions, such as fortune-telling and traditional food consumption, have not gained as much popularity globally.
Here are some Samhain traditions that are unique to Ireland and Scotland.
The Samhain parade takes place in Dublin every year.
Kolkanen (potato mixed with cabbage or cabbage) and barmbrack (sweet bread with dried fruit) are traditional foods. Barmbrack used to tell fortunes: Talismans are added to the bread, and your luck for the coming year depends on the brackets you find in your barmbrack.
Sausages have been a traditional Scottish Samhain meal since ancient times. In fact, the Witchcraft Act of 1735 forbids eating pork on Halloween. Fortunately, the law was repealed in 1950. Sausage rolls for everyone!
The Beltane Fire Society organizes the annual Samoan Fire Festival in Edinburgh.
Japan: Kawasaki Halloween Parade
Around the world, Halloween is usually for children. This is not true in Japan, where Halloween celebrations feel grown-up. No trick or treating, just lots of cosplay and lots of parties. Halloween celebrations in Tokyo have turned into chaos this year and the day has yet to come.
The most popular Halloween event in Japan is the Kawasaki Halloween Parade, attended by approximately 4,000 people. However, you can only wear something old and current. They have standards and attendees must register at least two months in advance to join the celebration.
In Italy, people celebrate the modern and imported “Halloween” celebrations alongside the older and more traditional “Ognisanti” celebrations.
“Ognissant” translates to “All Saints Day” and falls on November 1-2. However, people often start celebrating a day or two in advance.
During Ognissanti, the spirits of the deceased traditionally return to visit their living relatives. People decorate graves with autumn chrysanthemums. They stop eating to meet the spirits. In some parts of Italy, parents leave gifts for their children from dead relatives, almost like a mini Christmas.
Mexico: Day of the Dead
In Mexico, Halloween doesn’t compare to El Día de Los Muertos, the Day of the Dead.
A colorful blend of traditional customs and European traditions, Día de los Muertos is a two-day celebration of deceased ancestors and family members.
According to legend, on November 1 and 2, the souls of the dead reunite with their families. The living celebrates it with flowers, feasts, sweets, and intricate images of skulls and skeletons. They had a picnic and lit candles on the graves. Although images of death are everywhere, it is important to understand that this is not a holiday that is scary or sad, but rather a celebration of life, past and present.
Guatemala: Big Kites, Huge Kite Festival
Day of the Dead is also celebrated in Guatemala. Every year, the people of Santiago Sacatepéquez and Sumpango celebrate it with a unique twist: the Festival of Giant Kites.
In honor of his death, they make large brightly colored kites from local natural materials and fly them into the sky.