Halloween is just around the corner. For me I'm not really big into Halloween however there are so many different traditions around the world that are interesting enough to make me want to learn more. I know the true origin of Halloween is not any of these but that will be covered in the next post. For this post I will just be covering the traditions from around the world not the origins. I have included as many countries as I could, without having to many of the same tradition.
*No photos in this post*
In China, they have a Halloween festival known as “Teng Chieh”, where food and water are placed in front of photographs of deceased family members while bonfires and lanterns light a path for the spirits as they travel the world on the night of Halloween.
Pangangaluluwa is a tradition in the Philippines where children go door to door, often in costumes, where they sing and ask for prayers for those stuck in purgatory. While the rituals have increasingly been supplanted by trick-or-treating over the years, some towns are working tirelessly to revive Pangangaluluwa as a way of keeping the tradition alive, and as a local fundraiser.
At the end of every October for the past 21 years, nearly 4000 costumed Halloween enthusiasts from all around the world have gathered in Kawasaki, just outside Tokyo, for the Kawasaki Halloween Parade, which is the biggest parade of its kind in Japan. However, not everyone can simply join in the festivities. The Kawasaki Halloween Parade has strict guidelines and standards, so you have to apply for entry two months before the parade begins.
On the 15th day of the seventh lunar month, which is around mid-August to mid-September, the people of Hong Kong celebrate the Hungry Ghost Festival. In several parts of East Asia, people believe that spirits get restless around this time of year and begin to roam the world. The festival is a way to “feed” these spirits both the food and money they need for the afterlife. It’s part of a larger month-long celebration that also features burning paper and food offerings.
For 16 days during the second Paksha of the Hindu lunar month of Bhadrapada, many people in India celebrate Pitru Paksha. In the Hindu religion it is believed that when a person dies, Yama—the Hindu god of death—takes his or her soul to purgatory, where they'll find their last three generations of a family. During Pitru Paksha, the souls are briefly allowed to return to Earth and be with their families. In order to ensure their family’s place in the afterlife, one must perform the ritual of Shraddha, which includes a fire ritual. If Shraddha isn’t performed, the soul will wander the Earth for eternity. During Pitru Paksha, families offer the dead food such as kheer (sweet rice and milk), lapsi (a sweet porridge), rice, lentils, spring beans, and pumpkins, which are cooked in silver or copper pots and served on banana leaves.
From the end of September to the middle of October, Buddhist families gather together to celebrate Pchum Ben, a religious holiday to celebrate the dead. People give foods like sweet sticky rice and beans wrapped in banana leaves, and visit temples to offer up baskets of flowers as a way to pay respect to their deceased ancestors. It’s also a time for people to celebrate the elderly.
People from all around the world flock to celebrate Halloween at Vlad “The Impaler” Tepes’s purported home at Bran Castle in Transylvania, Romania (although it was never actually his castle, and there’s been a long-running debate over whether he ever even visited the site). There are a number of guides and inclusive travel packages in Romania that offer tours and parties at Count Dracula’s castle for Halloween.
In early November, people across Poland travel to cemeteries to visit the graves of their family members (Dzień Zaduszny is like the equivalent of All Souls' Day for Catholics in the country). The holiday is celebrated with candles, flowers, and an offering of prayers for departed relatives. On the second day, people attend a requiem mass for the souls of the dead.
All Saints' Day, November 1, is a national holiday in Italy. Better known as Ognissanti, the festivities usually begin a couple of days before, when people begin leaving fresh flowers—generally chrysanthemums—on the graves of departed loved ones, as well as complete strangers, turning the country's cemeteries into a beautiful display of colors. Italians also pay tribute to the departed by putting a red candle in the window at sunset, and set a place at the table for those spirits they hope will pay a visit.
On the evening of November 5, bonfires are lit throughout England. Effigies are burned and fireworks are set off. Although it falls around the same time and has some similar traditions, this celebration has little to do with Halloween or the ancient Celtic festival of Samhain. The English, for the most part, stopped celebrating Halloween as Martin Luther’s Protestant Reformation began to spread. As followers of the new religion did not believe in saints, they had no reason to celebrate the eve of All Saints’ Day. However, a new autumn ritual did emerge. Guy Fawkes Day festivities were designed to commemorate the execution of a notorious English traitor, Guy Fawkes.
Germany, Halloween is celebrated as All Saints Day – honoring the saints, as well as family members who have died. People hide their knives to avoid harm to returning spirits.
Scottish emigration, primarily to Canada before 1870 and to the United States thereafter, brought the Scottish version of the holiday to each country. The earliest known reference to ritual begging on Halloween in English speaking North America occurs in 1911 when a newspaper in Kingston, Ontario reported that it was normal for the smaller children to go street "guising" on Halloween between 6 and 7 p.m., visiting shops, and neighbors to be rewarded with nuts and candies for their rhymes and songs. Canadians spend more on candy at Halloween than at any time apart from Christmas. Halloween is also a time for charitable contributions. Until 2006 when UNICEF moved to an online donation system, collecting small change was very much a part of Canadian trick-or-treating. Quebec offers themed tours of parts of the old city and historic cemeteries in the area. In 2014 the hamlet of Arviat, Nunavut moved their Halloween festivities to the community hall, cancelling the practice of door-to-door "trick or treating", due to the risk of roaming polar bears. In British Columbia it is a tradition to set off fireworks at Halloween.
Observed in Mexico and Mexican communities abroad, Day of the Dead (Spanish: Día de Muertos) celebrations arose from the syncretism of indigenous Aztec traditions with the Christian Hallowtide of the Spanish colonizers. Flower decorations, altars and candies are part of this holiday season. The holiday is distinct from Halloween in its origins and observances, but the two have become associated because of cross-border connections between Mexico and the United States through popular culture and migration, as the two celebrations occur at the same time of year and may involve similar imagery, such as skeletons. Halloween and Día de Muertos have influenced each other in some areas of the United States and Mexico, with Halloween traditions such as costumes and face-painting becoming increasingly common features of the Mexican festival.
While not traditionally a part of Australian culture, non-religious celebrations of Halloween modeled on North American festivities are growing increasingly popular in Australia, in spite of seasonal differences and the transition from spring to summer. Criticism stems largely from the fact that Halloween has little relevance to Australian culture. It is also considered, by some Australians, to be an unwanted American influence; as although Halloween does have Celtic/European origins, its increasing popularity in Australia is largely as a result of American pop-culture influence. Supporters of the event claim that the critics fail to see that the event is not entirely American, but rather Celtic and is no different to embracing other cultural traditions such as Saint Patrick's Day. Due to the opposition to Halloween by some people, there is a growing movement where people are inviting trick-or-treaters to take part by putting a balloon or decoration on their letter box, to indicate that they are welcome to come knocking. In the past decade, the popularity of Halloween in Australia has grown.
In New Zealand, neighbouring Australia, Halloween is not celebrated to the same extent as in North America, although in recent years the non-religious celebrations have been achieving some popularity especially among young children. Trick-or-treat has become increasingly popular with minors in New Zealand over the years, despite being not a "British or Kiwi event" that purely is only influenced by American globalization. Critics of Halloween in New Zealand believe that commercialization of Halloween by the popular store The Warehouse has pushed the popularity of Halloween into an unofficial national holiday.
I hope that you enjoyed today's post. I hope that it gave you a little more of an understanding of how other countries celebrate Halloween.