Halloween traditions around the world vary. Not everyone goes trick or treating and dresses up as a scary character from a movie. Countries have different traditions that are all unique in their own way, but they all have one thing in common – the dead are celebrated.
We put together 7 interesting traditions around the world.
CHINA + HONG KONG
Halloween in China is known as Teng Chieh, where they place food and water in front of old photos of dead family members. They also light bonfires and lanterns so the spirits can make their way back to earth for that night. The Chinese do other traditional days of the dead such as Hungry Ghost Festival and the Double 9 Festival where they drink tea and worship spirits.
The Hungry Ghost Festival is popular in Hong Kong, where is it called Yue Lan. The festival is celebrated on the fifteen day of the seventh month in the lunar calendar and consists of incense, Chinese opera and other performances. The significance behind Yue Lan comes from the belief that the deceased ancestors come out from the underworld during that month. It is also believed that during that month. The spirits roam around the world, so people burn fruits, food and money to ease their spirit.
Mexicans do their own version of Halloween where they have something called the Day of the Dead. This public holiday includes huge parties and picnics besides the graves of dead relatives. The holiday comes from the Mexicans believing that on October 31st at midnight, the gates of heaven are opened and the child spirits are reunited with their families for that day. On Nov 2, the adult spirits then come down and they all celebrate together until they have to go back. The holiday is loud, vibrant and full of colourful skulls!
Halloween is called Alla Helgons Dag in Sweden, which translates to Al Saints Day. Kids and Uni students are given shorter days/or days off to celebrate the holiday which is slowly becoming popular. The customs include lighting candles to put on graves, particularly children’s. The candles are sometimes special ones, which stay lit for 50 hours so they burn through the weekend.
Some people leave bread, water and a light lamp on the table before they go to sleep. They do this because they believe that these items would welcome the dead souls back to earth for that night due to the strong energies!
The three-day Obon Festival is specially for those spirits of passed loved ones, and is therefore similar to Halloween. The time is meant to honour passed ancestors where the Japanese take care and clean their graves as the spirits are believed to return during that time. A common tradition is for the Japanese to do a special ‘bon dance’ during this time so they can lure in their ancestors spirits. They also have carnivals and light lanterns that float down the river.
Guy Fawkes Day/Bonfire Night is celebrated in England. The day celebrates the discovery of the Gunpowder plot, which was organised by conspirators to blow up the Parliament House in London in the 1600s. To celebrate, the English set off fireworks and have bonfires with garden rubbish, etc. Some even burn a model of a man/scarecrow to celebrate that the plot failed.