In the UK, Halloween is one of the most popular holidays. The UK’s Halloween industry is now worth more than £300 million, following Christmas and Easter as the third most lucrative festival. We know all about how we celebrate here; trick or treating, dressing up, pumpkin carving. But Halloween has now turned into something of a phenomenon across the world. The tradition which is thought to originate from Ireland, has now been adopted by many countries and has become part of their culture. Many countries also have their own equivalent of the celebration, so let’s look at some of the weird and wonderful ways people celebrate Halloween in different countries.
Cambodia’s equivalent of Halloween, P’chum Ben, is during December. During this time Buddhists honour their dead by bringing sweet sticky rice and beans wrapped in banana leaves to temples and gather with family and friends to hear music and speeches by monks.
On All Saints Day, Nov. 1, Catholic Germans honour the memory of saints and visit the graves of family members. From October 30 to November 8, Germans hide knives so returning spirits won’t be hurt by everyday knife movements.
In Salem, Massachusetts, on Hallowe’en you can take a stroll down candle-lit Witch Trial Trail, which leads you over the grounds of the 1692 witch trials. Practicing Witches have the tradition of a Magic Circle, where they come together to mourn the dead. This ritual takes place on Salem Common, the very same location as years past.
In Italy many Italian families make bean-shaped caked called Beans of the Dead. In southern Italy, families prepare a feast for the departed relatives, then go to church, leaving their homes open so spirits can feast.
In China Teng Chieh goes on at this time of year, their equivalent to Halloween. They gather up photographs of their family members who have passed and put food and water in front of them. They light up bonfires and lanterns to help with lighting the path they believe the spirits follow during Halloween.
6. Hong Kong
‘Yue Lan’ is the Halloween tradition that is celebrated in Hong Kong. This festival is known as the Hungry Ghosts Festival. They believe that the spirits roam around the world for up to around 24 hours.
In order to help comfort the ghosts that might be roaming, people burn pictures of money or fruit and believe that the images reach the ghosts and help them. If they believe a ghost might be angry then fires tend to be lit and gifts and food are placed as a peace offering.
In Japan they’ve only begun to celebrate Halloween in recent years, mainly due to American pop culture. They hold a parade in Kawasaki where nearly 4000 people stomp their way through Tokyo’s streets dressed up. And they certainly take this fancy dress seriously.
In Romania, the home of Dracula, the festivities evolve around Dracula and Transylvania. The Count’s home of Transylvania is a hub for Halloween enthusiasts and you can even go on tours of his castle and witness actors playing out Dracula inspired scenes.
Day of the dead or ‘Dia de Muertos’, is a big cause for celebration in Mexico, where the day is a public holiday. It focuses on gatherings on family and friends to pray for and remember friends and family members who have passed away.
Women typically dress up as Catrinas-Mexico’s dame of death. Traditions connected with the holiday include building private altars called ‘ofrendas’, honouring the deceased using sugar skulls, marigolds, and the favourite foods and beverages of the departed, and visiting graves with these as gifts.
How are you going to celebrate this year’s Halloween?
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