Halloween Customs and Traditions
Halloween, or All Hallows’ Eve, is one of the world’s oldest holidays. It is celebrated with various customs around the globe due to its good, harmless fun for the young and old. Traditionally its celebrations include trick-or-treating, costume parties, pumpkin carving, bonfires, bobbing for apples, haunted attractions, and scary stories or films.
Ireland – Ireland is considered to be the birth place of Halloween and was originally called “Samhain”. Today bonfires are lit and children dress in costumes to go trick-or-treating. After trick-or-treating has taken place many attend parties where games such as “snap apple”, cards, and treasure hunts are played. A traditional food – barnbrack – a type of fruit cake is often served. A muslin-wrapped treat is baked inside the cake that, it is said, can foretell the eater’s future.
China – In China “Teng Chieh” is the Halloween holiday. Following Chinese customs food and water are placed before photographs of departed family members and bonfire or lanterns are lit to light the paths of the spirits as they travel the Earth on this night. If you were in a Buddhist temple you would see “boats of the law”, made from paper, burnt in the evening. This custom is in remembrance of the dead and frees spirits of the “pretas”. Monks are present to recite religious verses and offerings of fruit are made.
France – Halloween is a relatively new tradition to the French and it celebrated as an “America” holiday. It is celebrated with costumed persons attending parties at homes, restaurants, bars and clubs. Trick or treating is not common, though store typically do decorate for the holiday. Pastry and candy shops provide special desserts and treats. Since Halloween is an American celebration not all French choose to take part in the festivities.
Japan – Japan is another country that has its own form of celebration. In Japan the “Obon Festival” is similar to Western Halloween festivities in that it celebrates the spirits of ancestors. During the festival, special foods are made and red lanterns are hung. A fire is lit nightly to show ancestors where they may find their families. In this tradition the festival is held during July or August and festivals, food booths, and bon dances take place in the evenings.
Mexico and Latin America – In these areas Halloween is known as “El Dia de los Muertos” and is a 3 day celebration. It is a very old tradition that has gone through many transformations. It is a happy time when friends and family who have died are remembered. In many homes alters can be found with decorated with candy, flowers, photographs, fresh water and other favorites of the deceased. In some villages parades are held where people dress up as skeletons and dance in the streets.
No matter how you choose to celebrate Halloween remember to have a safe and fun holiday!