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Spooktacular Halloween Traditions from All Around the World

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To find the origins of Halloween we need to head back to Ireland, where the Celts celebrated New Year on November 1. That was basically the day that separated the warm summer months and the cold, and dark winter. That’s why on October 31, the night before their New Year, they celebrated “Samhain”. As the saying goes, during the night the ghosts were able to return to earth, as the boundary between the dead and the living was too thin. Because of the ghosts, people gathered around in costumes to keep the dead away from themselves.

Nowadays Halloween is becoming more and more popular all around the world, and each country has its own, and unique way to celebrate it. Some of them being joyful and fun, some of them not so much. Here are some Halloween traditions from several countries, starting with the birthplace of Halloween, Ireland.


The Irish celebrate with bonfires, costumes, and the carving of pumpkin. You may have heard of the Jack O’ Lanterns. The name comes from an Irish man called Jack, who had colluded with the devil and was denied entry to Heaven. He had been condemned to wander the earth, to provide some light to him the Devil gave him a burning coal, which he put inside a turnip that he carved out. Ever since that day the people around the world follow this tradition.

United States:

Halloween in the United States is synonymous with trick-or-treating, pumpkin carving, and elaborate costumes. Many neighbourhoods transform into haunted wonderlands with houses decked out in spooky decorations and front lawns featuring eerie graveyards.


In Scotland, Halloween is celebrated with a tradition called “guising.” Children dress up in costumes and go door to door, performing a trick before receiving a treat.


In England, Bonfire Night or Guy Fawkes Night is celebrated on November 5th. People commemorate the failed Gunpowder Plot of 1605 with fireworks, bonfires, and the burning of effigies. Plus, children go trick-or-treating, which is known as Mischief Night there.


In Mexico, the celebration extends beyond just one night. Dia de los Muertos, or Day of the Dead, is a multi-day celebration that honours deceased loved ones. The saying says that on October 31 the deceased visit their families, and on November 2 they depart again. That is why families create vibrant altars, known as ofrendas, adorned with sugar skulls, marigold flowers, and the favourite foods of the departed.


Dia das Bruxas, or Day of the Witches, is the equivalent of Halloween in Portugal. The holiday shares many of its traditional roots with Halloween. Trick-or-treating is a staple of Dia das Bruxas, but children ask for bread, fruits, or nuts instead of candy. Families also visit the graves of deceased relatives on the Day of the Witches.


In China, the Halloween-like festival of Teng Chieh is celebrated with the lighting of lanterns to guide the spirits of deceased ancestors.

Hong Kong:

Halloween Time at Hong Kong Disneyland is the ideal place to experience the American Halloween. The event includes an interactive performance by Disney Villains singing songs written especially for the event. For Halloween with a local flavour, visit Hong Kong’s largest theme park, Ocean Park Hong Kong. This hosts Asia’s largest Halloween celebration. The nightly schedule of events includes haunted houses, street shows with spooky costumes, and other Halloween-themed entertainment.


Austria has a pumpkin festival called Kürbisfest, where people can eat many kinds of food made of pumpkins (Kürbis in German). The visitors can try pancakes, cookies, and even goulash made of pumpkin. There is a huge parade, music, folklore, and thousands of glowing pumpkins.


The popularity of Halloween started to raise in the early 2000s, and nowadays there are lots of Halloween based parties in the city centre. Hungarians who celebrate Halloween carve pumpkins (töklámpás), bake pumpkin pie, and dress up in scary costumes. The Töklámpás Fesztivál (pumpkin lantern festival) is being held on Heroes’ Square every year. People bring their pumpkin lanterns to the square and bring some canned food with themselves which then the organisers forward to the Child Catering Foundation to help children in need. Although it is a hugely respectable gesture, there are always people who say “There is no Halloween in Hungary! There is only All Saints’ Day!”

Which Halloween tradition did you like the most? And how do you celebrate Halloween (if you do)?

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