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Celebrating Halloween Around the World

Although mainly an American holiday, almost every country has some form of celebration in one way or another to remember or connect with the souls, spirits, or hollows of those who have passed.

Halloween’s origins apparently date from the ancient pagan Celtic festival of Samhain, which later was adopted by Christians who then spread it widely. In a lot of European and South American countries, All Saints’ Day (celebrated November 1) has a more important and religious place than Halloween. Because Halloween is not part of many other countries’ more traditional cultures, some people object to it even being celebrated at all. 

So, if you are studying abroad over Halloween, it is a good idea to research what could be going on in your host country on those dates!

France

Although some restaurants and bars have costume parties for Halloween, France celebrates Le Toussaint (All Saints’ Day) on November 1. On this day, people visit cemeteries to remember, honor, and place flowers on their loved ones’ graves. 

Halloween is still known as a clearly American holiday, and although you can find big parades, decorations and events in Disneyland Paris or major cities such as Nice, Toussaint is still their biggest holiday.

 

Spain

In Spain the public holiday is November 1, El Dia de Todos los Santos, so the previous day is treated like a Friday or Saturday night. Partying on Halloween is becoming more and more popular, particularly in larger cities such as Madrid or Barcelona, and especially among college students (partying) and children (candy). Not everybody is happy with the celebration of Halloween. But Spaniards normally don’t say no to a party, which is why you can increasingly find costume parties and themed events. 

Italy

As in Spain, the main holiday in Italy is November 1 or Tutti i Morti Day (All Souls’ Day). On the morning of that day, children may wake to find some little gifts from their departed loved ones. However, Halloween is growing in popularity in the country especially among young adults who would dress up for costume parties. In some cities, you can find special events for adults and even some trick-or-treating or, as they say in Italian, dolcetto-scherzetto.

England

In England, on the night before Halloween (October 30, known as Mischief Night) teenagers and young adults run amok by playing pranks. The old tradition of giving soul cakes (aka souling) is often seen as the origin of modern trick-or-treating. Nowadays Halloween is extremely popular in the UK, especially decoration of witches and pumpkins. London offers several spooky events such as tours of London Dungeon and pub crawls around the city.

Scotland

The superstitions and traditions related to All Hallows Eve are very strong in Scotland. You can find a lot of traditional games such as apple dooking (bobbing for apples), attempting to eat jam-coated scones hanging on a piece of string while blindfolded at traditional parties all over Scotland. We can say that Scottish people are Halloween professionals as they have been celebrating some form of it it since the 16th century. 

Ireland

Tons of events and activities are scheduled in Dublin for Halloween, not only for kids but for adults as well. Ireland apparently is where the carving of jack-o-lanterns originated (although they used turnips instead of pumpkins.)

Ecuador

Halloween shares the date with Ecuador’s Day of the National Seal. However, many foreigners tend to celebrate Halloween in some places, such as near the Plaza Foch area in Quito. Put on your costume, go out and find one of the costume contests!

Peru

Halloween is shadowed by El Día de la Canción Criolla, or the Day of Criolla music, in Peru, which is celebrated on October 31. Peruvians spend the night dancing the marinera (the national dance) and singing different types of music. The next two days they celebrate All Saints’ Day visiting their departed ones in the cemeteries, bringing them all kinds of gifts from food, drinks, flowers, etc.

Japan

In Osaka and Shibuya (Tokyo), it is very common to find young adults wearing elaborate costumes on Halloween and also in other major cities where locals and expats gather for cheerful celebrations. While trick-or-treating has taken hold in some areas, Halloween is seen mainly as a club event for costume parties. To honor ancestors’ spirits, Japan celebrates the Obon Festival (also called Matsuri or Urabon) in July or August.

Greece

Greeks do not typically celebrate Halloween but instead a similar event, The Apokrias. In February, it is similar to Carnival in the sense that children wear costumes, and cake and sweets are handed out. Greece also has its own recipe for green pumpkin pie or kolokythopita.

Germany

Halloween has been celebrated in Germany by both adults and children since the 1990s. November 1, a public holiday in Germany, is Allerheiligen (All Saints Day), on which people visit cemeteries and put candles on the graves of their departed loved ones. You can find some adult costume parties in different cities around Germany, where Halloween is gaining popularity.

Wherever you are, have a SpOoKtaCulAr HaLLoWeEn!!

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