11 Ghoulish Halloween Traditions from around the World

11 Ghoulish Halloween Traditions from around the World
October 31, 2018 Felicity Anderson

11 Ghoulish Halloween Traditions from around the World

Carving pumpkins and trick or treating are some of our favourite UK Halloween traditions but how do they celebrate Halloween around the rest of the world?

Here CashLady explores 11 Halloween traditions from across the globe, including Mexico’s famous Day of the Dead and Poland’s Day of Prayer for the Souls.

Celebrating Halloween in different cultures

There are various Halloween traditions celebrated around the world, each featuring their own special quirks and rituals.

Usually, they represent a time to think about and celebrate the people who are sadly no longer with us.

Many of these traditions are far from spooky – they can be joyous and colourful, incorporating ornate costumes, delicious feasts, beautiful lanterns and special ceremonies.

Halloween traditions from around the world

Dia de Las Muertos, Mexico

11 Ghoulish Halloween Traditions from around the World

In Mexico and much of Latin America, Halloween is known as El Dia de Los Muertos or the days of the dead.

It’s a three-day Halloween tradition that begins on the evening of October 31 and started in Mexico as a way to celebrate to children and the dead.

Now it’s a national holiday and a time to welcome spirits back through colourful rituals and ceremonies.

The Hungry Ghost Festival, China

11 Ghoulish Halloween Traditions from around the World

China’s Halloween traditions sound a little scary but it’s another way to honour those who have passed.

The Halloween festival, known as Teng Chieh, sees food and water placed in front of photographs of deceased family members.

Bonfires and lanterns are also lit to light the paths of the spirits as they travel the earth on this special spooky night.

Fet Gede, Haiti

11 Ghoulish Halloween Traditions from around the World

Fet Gede means the Feast of the Dead and it’s a time for Vodouisants to celebrate the ancestral dead.

The celebration is often described as a Vodou equivalent of Mardi Gras, Mexican Day of the Dead, and Halloween, all wrapped into one.

There’s dressing up and partying as people stream into cemeteries across the country over two days.

Here they honour Baron Samedi, the guardian of the dead and ruler of the graveyard, and the rest of the Gede spirits, which represent death and fertility.

Chuseok, South Korea

Chuseok, South Korea

A Halloween style harvest festival with shamanistic origins, Chuseok sees the people of South Korea celebrate and give thanks with their family and friends.

On the morning of Chuseok, families hold a memorial service for their ancestors called ‘Charye,’ which is a ritual that’s been carried out over thousands of years.

Tutti i Morti, Italy

Tutti i Morti, Italy - All souls day

In Italy, Ognissanti or I Santi, also known as, All Saints’ Day, is celebrated on 1 November and I Morti or, All Souls’ Day, is observed on 2 November.

Both are considered important religious holidays, which are celebrated through feasting and celebrating their loved ones no longer with us with special masses and trips to the cemetery.

Gai Jatra, Nepal

Another interesting Halloween style festival, Gai Jatra is celebrated every year in the Kathmandu valley in central Nepal.

It takes place in August or September, falling on the first day of the ‘dark’ fortnight called Gunla, according to the Nepali lunar calendar.

The festival is based on the ancient worship of the god Yamaraj, Lord of Death, also known as Yama in Hindu tradition.

It marks an important time to honour all loved ones who have died in the previous year.

Like with many Halloween style traditions and festivals around the world, however, it’s also a time for laughter and fun.

Zaduszki, Poland

Zaduszki Poland

By Klearchos Kapoutsis (Flickr: Zaduszki) [CC BY 2.0 ], via Wikimedia Commons

Zaduszki can be roughly translated as Day of Prayer for the Souls.

The eve of the holiday, November 1, falls on what is also known as All Saints’ Day in Catholic communities.

In the church calendar, that day is followed by All Souls’ Day, the official day to commemorate the departed faithful.

The Polish Zaduszki celebrations begin with tending to family graves and surrounding graveyards on the first day, extending into the next.

The Zaduszki custom of honouring the dead matches with All Souls’ Day celebrations in many other parts of the world.

Obon, Japan

Obon, Japan

Obon is an annual Buddhist event for commemorating their ancestors. It’s believed that each year during Obon, the ancestors’ spirits return to this world to visit their relatives.

Traditionally, lanterns are placed in front of houses to guide the ancestors’ spirits, dances are performed, graves are visited, and food offerings are made at house altars and temples.

At the end of the festival floating lanterns are put into rivers, lakes and seas in order to guide the spirits back into their world.

Pchum Ben, Cambodia

Pchum Ben, Cambodia

Pchum Ben, also known as Ancestors’ Day, or Festival of the Dead is a 15-day Cambodian religious festival.

Culminating in celebrations on the 15th day of the tenth month in the Khmer calendar, it marks the end of the Buddhist Lent.

Martinstag, Germany

Martinstag or St. Martin’s Day is celebrated on November 11 Germany, marking a religious observance that’s especially popular with children.

In the run-up to the day, kids make and hang lanterns and then on the day itself expect processions across the country – celebrating St. Martin of Tours who was a saint dedicated to modesty and altruism.

The day also involves dressing up as the saint, gathering around large bonfires, enjoying a festive style meal and slurping mulled wine (for the adults).

Austria, Kürbisfest

Austria, Kürbisfest

Finally, in Austria and Retz they celebrate a pumpkin festival known as Kürbisfest.

Pumpkin parties, parades and parties all feature in this Halloween style celebration, which in Retz includes an annual pumpkin harvest called Bluza.

You can also expect to see carved pumpkins in the days leading up to the festival.

Happy Halloween wherever you are in the world!

11 Ghoulish Halloween Traditions from around the World

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