Halloween Around The World: How Is It Celebrated In Other Cultures?

Halloween Time

How do you think of Halloween?

Many people see it as a modern celebration that originated in America. Whilst this is true, the roots of Halloween go much further back than you might realise. In fact, evidence suggests that it originated in the Early Middle Ages as a Catholic vigil, on the eve of All Saints Day, November 1st. With this much history behind it, it’s unsurprising that Halloween is far more than an American/ British holiday. It is celebrated around the world in different forms, and many cultures have different traditions to the Americanised trick or treating and fancy dress (which are without a doubt great fun). Here are just a few that you might like to incorporate into your celebrations.

China

The Chinese equivalent to Halloween is known as Teng Chieh, and whilst its traditions are different from our own there are some similarities. Food and water is placed in front of photographs of deceased family members, and lanterns and bonfires (an alternative to pumpkins) are lit to light the paths of the spirits as they travel the Earth. ‘Boats of the Law’ are fashioned from paper by worshippers in Buddhist temples, and are then burned in the evening. The festival has two purposes; remembrance and to help ‘pretas’ (the souls of people who have died in accidents and could not be buried) ascend to heaven. lantern-floating

Austria

Some people in Austria leave bread, water and a lighted lamp out before going to bed on Halloween. This custom is due to the belief that the night is ‘magical’ and that the offerings will welcome dead souls back to Earth.

Mexico

The Mexican version of Halloween is the Day of the Dead or Dia de los Muertos, which occurs on the 1st and 2nd November. The main difference between Halloween and Day of the Dead is in their attitudes to death; Halloween is all about fearing it whereas Day of the Dead is about celebrating it. Celebrations include the making of elaborate alters with photos, food and drink to welcome home the dead, decoration of loved ones’ graves and parades. Day of the Dead 2008

Japan

Japan holds a similar festival to Halloween in the summer called Obon. The event honours the spirits of ancestors, and red lanterns are released into the air and sea. During the festival families light a fire every night to guide their deceased relatives’ spirits home.

Obon Lanterns

Germany

The Americanised version of Halloween with pumpkins and trick or treating is becoming increasingly popular in Germany. However, some people still observe more traditional rituals. One of these involves hiding knives to stop malicious spirits finding them.

Czechoslovakia

In Czechoslovakia, families place chairs around the fire on Halloween night. One chair is placed for each family member and another for each of their spirits.

Hong Kong

In Hong Kong the festival is known as ‘Yue Lan’ or ‘The Festival of the Hungry Ghosts’. Locals believe that spirits will wander the Earth for 24 hours, and to bring comfort to them they burn pictures of fruit or money to help it reach the spirit world.

The Festival of the Hungry Ghosts

Halloween is celebrated in many different forms around the world. What they do all have in common is that they are a celebration of the dead and other worldly beings. However, in other countries the festival is often about the remembrance of loved ones and communication with the spirit world.

United Kingdom

Here in the UK, we're much more accustomed to dressing up for Halloween and adopting the American game of 'Trick or Treat'.

Halloween costumes are available for children and adults alike, whether based on horror film characters such as Freddy Krueger from the Nightmare on Elm Street, Ghostbusters' Mr Stay Puft, Batman's The Joker or Leatherface, or traditional fictional costumes such as Witches, Vampires, Frankensteins, Ghosts and Demons.

We stock a large variety of costumes, just check our Halloween Fancy Dress category.

Why not try incorporating Halloween Balloons with these traditions into your usual celebrations?

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