“Trick or Treat!” exclaim children in the United States as they excitedly dash from door to door collecting candy. Many adults enjoy Halloween as much as the children do in the US, with the holiday placing #2 in sales behind Christmas. The uniquely American tradition of Halloween has its roots in European traditions to cast out evil spirits, but it has evolved into a day to celebrate the darker side of nature in a fun, harmless way. Let’s take a look at some of the different Halloween traditions and celebrations around the world.
Ireland is where Halloween was born, it is said. The ancient pagan festival of Samhain was celebrated on the night of October 31st. The rituals marked the end of fall and the beginning of winter. Today, Ireland welcomes visitors to celebrate Halloween with a strange and spooky journey to their lands. Abraham Stoker was born in Dublin, and his mother filled his head with macabre Irish folktales when he was bed-bound as a young child. His imagination was fueled to later pen Dracula, a character still popular at Halloween. Why not enjoy the Bram Stoker Festival in Dublin for Halloween?
For more spooks and chills, check out Derry’s Halloween celebration. If the 400-year-old walls surrounding the city don’t creep you out, one of the haunted historic tours or enchanted trails in the city will. Dubbed one of the greatest Halloween celebrations in the world, Derry Halloween promises that “A welcome like no other awaits you, as the division between this world and the otherworlds is at its thinnest, as supernatural beings and the souls of the dead flood into the City, let your imagination run wild and join us on a celebration like no other, filled with ghoulish events and frightful fun for all the family.”
Transylvania, the home to Bram Stoker’s Dracula, is nestled in the charming country of Romania. Due to the immense popularity of the legend, Romania has embraced Day of Dracula on October 31st. People from all over the world flock to the region to celebrate in Dracula’s castle. Multiple tours offer excursions to Bran Castle, the alleged home of Dracula, with Halloween parties offered on the grounds. Looking for new Halloween traditions? Celebrate Halloween at the Count’s home with a fearless group of fun-seekers from all over the world.
Halloween has caught on in Japan in the last two decades. You won’t find trick or treaters here, but you will find ample opportunities to dress up and party on October 31st. The Kawasaki Halloween Parade is a massive event that attracts over 100,000 people. Located near Tokyo, the Kawasaki Halloween Parade is Japan’s biggest Halloween party. The parades are free to view, but participants must pay a nominal fee to march in the event. Last year over 2,600 costumed participants joined the parade. There is a smaller children’s parade and then a massive parade for everyone, with costumes ranging from kitschy to creepy.
Celebrations Remembering the Dead
Many countries around the world have Halloween traditions that occur on November 1st to remember their dearly departed. These celebrations, which often take place in cemeteries, are somber yet joyful. Families come together to clean gravesites, leave flowers, and display photos of loved ones in order to keep their memories alive and to keep their families united. In Mexico, Dia de los Muertos is a well known holiday. In Italy, Ognissanti is a national holiday where families honor their dead. Pangangaluluwa is a celebration in the Philippines that begins October 31st and continues the next day. Children will often knock on doors asking for alms for the souls in purgatory. While none of these are Halloween celebrations, they take place at the same time of year and are worth noting if you will be in one of these countries during that time frame.
Where have you celebrated Halloween around the world? Will you be trying any of these Halloween traditions this year? If not, you might stay home and try some of our picks for Halloween party attire.