10 Halloween traditions from around the world
Halloween is coming and people from different countries are preparing to celebrate according to their own traditions. The following are 10 of the most unique Halloween celebrations from all over the world.
Scotland and Ireland
Many modern Halloween traditions originate from the pagan Celtic population that once lived in these two countries. On the 31st of October, a festival named Samhain was originally used to celebrate the Celtic New Year. This included the bonfires, games, traditional foods and fortune telling that are still part of Halloween celebrations today.
Halloween was brought over to the US by Irish immigrants in the 19th century and quickly became an occasion to celebrate and organise parties. Traditions include children knocking door to door asking for ‘trick or treat’ and the carved pumpkin lanterns that can be seen everywhere on the night of the 31st.
In Italy, Catholic and Halloween traditions are intertwined in the celebration of Ognissanti. Between the night of the 31st and the 1st of November, a feast is held to remember and honour the Saints.
Halloween in Romania is a great opportunity to learn more about the legend of Count Dracula, the world’s most intriguing vampire. Some residents and tourists may take impressive trips to his castle, while others wait until the 30th of November to celebrate Noaptea Strigoilor – the Night of the Spirits.
Another interesting tradition comes from this little country where one chair for each member of the family, dead and alive, is positioned in a room that usually features a fireplace.
Many families in Austria leave a table with food, drink and a lantern to welcome the spirits of relatives and close friends that will come to visit during the night.
El Dia de Los Muertos is celebrated to honour those family members who are not of this world anymore. A table is prepared where the family place food, calveritas (poems written for the dead) and cempasuchil (flowers). A drawing on the floor is then made to lead the spirits of relatives to the table.
Before the arrival of night, traditional German families will make sure all the knives in the house are safely stored. This ensures that any souls of the dead coming to visit them will not get hurt.
In many Asian countries, where Halloween is not part of their cultural identity, other similar celebrations have evolved. A festival called Teng Chieh usually occurs during summer. People believe that spirits revisit the world for one day and for this reason lanterns are turned on to help them find their way.
Similar to this is the Japanese Obon Festival. During this festivity, of Buddhist origins, people celebrate the return of the spirits of their ancestors. Everything ends with lanterns which are set free on the river to symbolise the return of the spirits from the world of the dead.
Even if in your country there are no strong Halloween traditions, it’s still an excellent opportunity to learn more about other cultures and to get involved with charity events. So happy Halloween, however you’ll be celebrating!
Across our three EF Academy campuses, we have students representing near to a hundred different countries and cultures.