Culture & History, Discovery

Hallowe’en celebrations around the world

30 Oct , 2017  

Hallowe’en is traditionally celebrated on October 31 with different countries marking the day in a variety of ways.

If you didn’t know, Hallowe’en is actually a contraction of All Hallows’ Evening and is also known as All Saints’ Eve, All Hallows’ Eve and Allhalloween.

Hallowe’en marks the eve of the Western Christian feast of All Hallows’ Day. It begins the three-day observance of Allhallowtide a period dedicated to remembering the dead.

It’s thought that Hallowe’en traditions originated from ancient Celtic harvest festivals and that these events had pagan roots. However, some believe also think that Hallowe’en began as a Christian holiday.

The dressing up in costumes part of Hallowe’en is thought be about protect yourself from spirits, while carved turnips – or pumpkins as is more common today – are to stop fairies from settling in people’s houses.

Staff dressed up at Haloween

Hallowe’en at Macs Adventure

As the celebration developed, Christians began dressing up as angels and demons, going door-to-door “souling”, asking for cakes in exchange for prayers. This could be the origin of “trick-or-treating”.

There are different celebrations around the world and we choose some of the highlight places to enjoy Hallowe’en.

New York, America

America takes Hallowe’en celebrations very seriously and considers it just about as important as Christmas.

One of the most exciting places to be on October 31 is Greenwich Village, New York, for a big parade, which draws thousands of people dressed up in an array of weird and wonderful costumes.

Samhain, Ireland and Scotland

The Samhain is the name for the “The Feast of the Dead” festival that celebrates the end of the autumn harvest and the start of winter. This translates in the modern calendar as sunset on October 31 to sunset on November 1. The celebration includes bonfires and food.

These days, many western countries have taken on the same US traditions of Hallowe’en parties and people in fancy dress visiting local homes for “trick-or-treating”.

Día de los Muertos, Mexico

Latin America hosts celebrations called Día de los Muertos at the end of October. If you are looking for one of the best, head to the Mexican town of Oaxaca for a special Día de los Muertos.

The festival is somewhat macabre, yet also a joyful affair, with markets, painted faces and street processions in memory of people’s loved ones.

You can also follow in the footsteps of James Bond and head to Mexico City. During a scene in Spectre, and actor Daniel Craig’s last outing as 007, the city’s Día de los Muertos was where he was shot.

Day of the Dead figures in Mexico

Day of the Dead figures in Mexico

Catalonia, Spain

In Catalonia, celebrations involve eating roast chestnuts, panellets, which are special biscuits, roasted or baked sweet potato and candied fruits.

Around this time, it common for street vendors to sell hot roasted chestnuts wrapped in newspaper. In many places, confectioners often organise raffles of chestnuts and preserved fruit.

The tradition of eating these foods comes from time past when, on All Saints’ night, bell ringers would ring bells to commemorate the dead – and they would carry on into the early morning. Friends and relatives would help with foods, such as chestnuts, for sustenance.

The Hungry Ghost Festival, Hong Kong

Yu Lan, or the Hungry Ghost Festival, is all about worshipping ancestors. According to Chinese traditions, the event takes places during the seventh month of the lunar calendar, which is believed to be “when restless spirits roam the earth”.

Chinese opera is a main feature of the special festivals and the performances focus on praise and worship of gods. Festivals include roadside fires, burning fake money and sacrificial offerings, such as food, for the ghosts of ancestors.

Fake money is burnt during the Hungry Ghost festival

 

Obon festival, Japan

Another celebration of ancestors takes place over three days and includes dance performances, visiting the graves of ancestors and leaving food offerings at altars.

Kawasaki, Japan

An annual Hallowe’en costume parades makes for a huge celebration in the Japanese city o Kawasaki. Some 2,500 people take part in the spectacle and another 100,000 come to spectate.

Czechoslovakia

At Hallowe’en, tradition has it that chairs for each deceased family member are placed by fires alongside chairs for each living person.

Austria

Hallowe’en tradition sees people leaving bread, water and a lighted lamp on the table before going to bed. It is thought these rituals will welcome dead souls back to life on earth.

By  

A journalist, web copywriter blogger and social media chatterbox, Fiona combines her love of the outdoors – especially Scotland – with a diverse freelance work life. If she’s not at her desk writing about the outdoors, she’ll be outside cycling, running, kayaking, snowboarding and walking Munros. She shares her outdoors passion with partner, the G-Force. Sometimes her teenage daughter Little Miss Outdoors tags along, too.