While the tradition for most Americans is to spend Halloween dressing up in costumes and trick-or-treating, there are celebrations and traditions in other countries around the world that have similar celebratory rituals. Here are 8 Halloween-like celebrations from around the world:
IRELAND - Samhain
In Ireland, the birthplace of modern Halloween, the holiday was once known Samhain, or Samhuinn, originating from ancient Celtic and Pagan rituals.
Today, the tradition is pretty much like in the United States, and includes lighting bonfires, children getting dressed up in costumes and spend the evening "trick-or-treating" in their neighborhoods, or playing "knock-a-dolly" (a prank in which children knock on the doors of their neighbors, but run away before the neighbors open the door).
After trick-or-treating, most people attend parties with neighbors and friends, playing games, like the traditional "snap-apple", where players try to take a bite out of an apple hanging on a string.
Parents also arrange treasure hunts for their children, with candy or pastries as the "treasure, or card games with prizes.
And the traditional food eaten during Halloween in Ireland is "Barnbrack", a kind of fruitcake that can be bought in stores or baked at home, that contains coins, buttons, and rings for fortunetelling.
ITALY - Giorno Dei Morti
Giorno dei Morti is a national holiday in Italy, where Italians cherish the memory of their departed loved ones by leaving fresh flowers, turning the country's cemeteries into a beautiful display of colors. Across the country, people pay tribute to the dead 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.
During this holiday, people traditionally make Italian cookies called "Fave dei morti", which are cookies shaped like fava beans. The recipe's origin dates back to pre-Christian time when fava beans were used as ritual offering to the dead and supernatural gods.
CAMBODIA - Pchum Ben
Pchum Ben is a religious holiday to celebrate the dead by the Buddhist families in Cambodia. The holiday is celebrated from the end of September to the middle of October, during which 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.
CHINA - Gui Jie
In China, the Halloween festival is known as the Hungry Ghost Festival, or in Mandarin, Gui Jie. The Gui Jie is a traditional Buddhist and Taoist festival also celebrated in other East Asian countries, during which it is believed that spirits roam the world for 24 hours - the deceased come to visit the living from Heaven and ghosts and spirits come out from the lower realm (Hell), permitting all to receive food, drinks and money to provide them comfort for their afterlife.
Both Taoists and Buddhists would perform rituals, practice ancestor worship, offering food to the monks and to the deceased, burning incense, burning joss paper, and serving extravagant meals (usually vegetarian) with empty seats for each of the deceased in the family, as if they were still alive.
Instead, the Japanese celebrate the Obon Festival which is being held at a different time of year (the festival is observed in July or August instead of October), when the dead are believed to return to their birthplaces.
During Obon the Japanese prepare special foods and hang bright red lanterns in honor of the spirits of deceased loved ones and ancestors, and a fire is lit nightly to help show ancestors they path to their families.
MEXICO - Dia de Los Muertos
Día de los Muertos (Day of the Dead) is a three-day celebration (from October 31st to November 2nd), taking place in Mexico and part of Latin America to honor those loved ones who passed away. The Mexicans believe that Heaven's Gates open on October 31 at midnight, and the souls of children return to Earth to be reunited with their families for 24 hours. This is a joyous and happy holiday, and the whole celebration is about life.
The holiday is celebrated at each family's in-home altar, decorated with candy, flowers, the deceased’s photographs, and favorite foods and drinks.
On the last day of the holiday, relatives get together for a picnic at the gravesite reminisce the dead loved one and share stories about them.
NIGERIA - Awuru Odo
During the Awuru Odo Festival the Nigerian people celebrate the return of friends and family members, who passed away, with feasts, music, and masks to their spirit world. The festival lasts for up to six months, but only celebrated once every two years, when it is believed the spirits will return to Earth.
POLAND - Dzien Zaduszny
Dzień Zaduszny, or "All Souls Day" marked in early November by people across Poland who travel to cemeteries to visit the graves of their family members, offering candles, flowers, and prayers for departed relatives. On the second day, people attend a requiem mass for the souls of the dead.
Wouldn't a trip to any of these fabulous destinations would make an exciting experience?
Leave us a comment and share with us how you are going to celebrate Halloween differently this year.
SWAGGER | WOMEN GEARED