Halloween Around the World

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Happy Halloween from your Agents at Willamette Intl Travel!!

Northern Americans have celebrated Halloween in full costumed spirit ever since Irish and Scottish immigrants carried over their traditions in the 19th century. The holiday is said to have its origins with the Celtic festival of Samhain, a time of bonfires, superstitions and deceased relatives. Now people all over the USA and Canada go wild on this night with spooky decorations, costume parties and trick-or-treating.

In the past two decades, American traditions have spread all over the world, so that even countries like Sweden, Saudi Arabia and Japan carve pumpkins and dress up as scary ghosts or witches. But the chilly autumn months of October and November have long been a time for souls crossing over! Here are six festivities around the time of Halloween that aren’t quite all about ghouls and goblins.

  • China observes the festival of Teng Chieh, “the Feast of the Hungry Ghosts,” when spirits are believed to return the Earth in search of food and water. It’s customary to place some food and drink in front of photographs deceased family members, and to light lanterns and bonfires to guide their way.
  • Similarly, Austrians leave bread and water on a table to welcome the dead souls back to earth, whereas in Germany, people hide away their knives so souls don’t harm themselves during their visit to the earthly plain.
  • In Romania and Lithuania, many people place candles on shrines dedicated to their dead relatives, so that the whole cemetery is lit up with candles in snow.
  • In Mexico, Latin America and Spain, La Dia de los Muertos is a huge festival, with parades, sugared candies, and dancers dressed up as skeletons. Parties and picnics gather at graveyards to commemorate the departed souls.
  • In Sweden, the week-long festival, Alla Helgons Dag, is a time of remembrance. Workers and schoolchildren have a half-day of work and studies. The best place to visit is the Woodland Cemetery in a Stockholm, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, which is decked out in candles all weekend.
  • And finally, to cap off our list is Diwali, a gorgeous Hindu festival celebrated this year on October 30. An evening of lights, candles and lanterns, it’s a time from signifying the victory of light over darkness and knowledge over ignorance.

Are there different Halloween-ish festivals in your heritage or country? Feel free to share with us in the comments!

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