Halloween Traditions Around the World
Updated: Oct 17
By Maya Meade, Blogger
Illustrations by Naila Latham
As Halloween quickly approaches, people are getting into the spooky holiday spirit. For many United States citizens, Halloween is about dressing up, getting candy and going out with friends in costume. In many other countries, Halloween has decades of deeper tradition behind it and can be a very meaningful time of year.
Mexico & Latin America
Dia de los Muertos, or the Day of the Dead, is celebrated from Nov. 1 to Nov. 2 in Mexico and parts of Latin America. Dia de los Muertos honors those who have passed away, and it is believed that the gates of heaven open at midnight on Oct. 31. When the gates open, the souls of children return to Earth and are reunited with their families for the first day. On Nov. 2, the souls of adults come down from heaven to participate in the festivities. To celebrate their loved ones, people build and decorate colorful altars with photos of their deceased family members and place personal objects and their favorite foods around the photos.
Ireland & Scotland
In Ireland and Scotland, Samhain, or the end of the light half of the year, takes place. Due to its historical Celtic and Pagan rituals, Ireland is considered the birthplace of modern Halloween. Both countries celebrate with food, games and large bonfires. One of the traditional foods of Halloween is Irish fruitcake. Inside of the fruitcake are coins, buttons and rings that tell the fortune of the upcoming year; rings represent marriage and coins represent wealth.
Japan holds one of the largest Halloween parades known as the Kawasaki Halloween parade. The Kawasaki Halloween parade has taken place at the end of every October for the last 21 years. Four thousand Halloween lovers from around the world go to Kawasaki, Japan, to participate however, the parade is not for everyone. The Kawasaki Halloween Parade requires that participants apply two months in advance to attend, and it has strict guidelines and standards, such as all registered attendees must wear a costume but the costume cannot display any weapons and must be more than just face makeup. Participants are also not allowed to take any photos during the parade on mobile devices or cameras.
Halloween in the Philippines is similar to Halloween in the United States. The Halloween tradition is called Pangangaluluwa, which involves children going door-to-door in costumes. The difference is that Filipino children sing and ask for prayers for those stuck in purgatory. Trick-or-treating has come to take over this long held tradition over the years, but many towns in the Philippines are working hard to keep the tradition alive.
Halloween traditions are endless; in addition to the major celebrations mentioned above, other countries around the world have their own traditions for spooky season. From the Awuru Odo Festival in Nigeria and Pchum Ben in Cambodia to Ognissanti in Italy and Pitru Paksha in India, Halloween looks different in many places around the world.