The spooky season, known mostly as Halloween around the world, is almost upon us at last! Whether you mark Halloween by carving pumpkins, watching a scary movie, or partying with friends, this frightful festival is one of the highlights of the year.

Whilst modern-day Halloween is more associated with candy, costumes and pumpkins, it is actually an ancient tradition. It’s based on the belief that All Hallows Eve is the night when the veil between the living and the dead is lifted and that spirits roam amongst us.

As one of the world’s oldest holidays, Halloween around the world is a western festival that stems from ancient rituals and pagan influence. It is now celebrated around the world, and many countries have adopted Halloween traditions or have frightening festivals that have some spooky similarities.

Halloween 2020: Update

Halloween 2020 promises to be a bit different… Many of our Halloween traditions around the world can’t take place properly.

But our ability to come together, celebrate and support each other is untouched! However you’re celebrating your socially-distanced Halloween, why not share the memories with someone who you weren’t able to see party with? You could take pictures of your costume, DIY decorations or just a funny motif and send them as real postcards. Send a message or use the MyPostcard app who send your photos or postcards by post for you!

Find 10 spooky motifs and themes with Halloween sayings here (or use the free quotes available in the app direct!)

Which countries celebrate Halloween?

pumpkins are carved for Halloween around the world

So which countries even celebrate Halloween on October 31st? Halloween has been celebrated in Canada, the USA and the Dominican Republic basically ever since it was brought over with Scottish colonizer, gaining popularity in the 19th century and early 20th.

In many countries, Halloween and the celebrations often associated with the USA, like trick-or-treating have has been growing in popularity since the early 2000s. Among these are Greece, Germany, Japan, Hong Kong, the Dominican Republic and more.

However many countries have their own traditions for All Souls’ Day. Read on to find out what!

Halloween Around the World: 8 Terrifying Traditions…

#1 The Celtic Countries

Halloween traditions around the world are thought to have originated in Ireland as part of the Celtic festival Samhain, pronounced Sow-in. This was a day that marked the end of harvest and the start of the winter months; commemorating the start of the Celtic New Year on November 1st. Outlander fans will be aware that this holiday is associated with old magic and folklore. Hundreds of years ago, across Ireland, the UK, and northern France, pagans prepared for the night when spirits are able to enter the living world.

The blurring of boundaries between worlds naturally brought with it ideas of magic. Fortune telling games are still played today in the form of ‘fortune telling cabbage’ for instance, remnants of a more magical time. It’s likely that magic was used in an attempt to appease the evil spirits and demons that were thought to walk amongst the living on this all fated night.

#2 The USA

Whilst many of us are big fans of Halloween, the holiday is relatively new in the States. It was brought over from Catholic Europe by Scottish and Irish immigrants in the 19th Century. Whether it is a family day out to a pumpkin patch, carving jack-o-lanterns or trick or treating, there is so much to see and do!

Now second only to Christmas, Halloween in North America is predominantly secular. It promises to be more fun rather than frightening! Many Americans choose to decorate their homes and wear costumes for this horrifying holiday.

It doesn’t matter if you wear a spooky or beautiful costume – Halloween is an event where everybody takes a lot of pictures. Why not be prepared to take the best pictures? Read these cool Halloween photography tips!

#3 Mexico

Day of the dead in Mexico is one version of Halloween around the world
A woman attends Catrina’s Parade in Mexico in costume

Originating thousands of years ago in Aztec culture, Día de Muertos is a celebration to honor loved ones and ancestors that have passed onto the other side.

The festival is premised on the belief that the Gates of Heaven open at midnight on October 31. Lost souls of children can then be reunited with their families on earth. Then on the 2nd of November, it is believed that our departed adults join us for this celebration of death. To honor those that have passed over, ofrendas (or altars), are created, food is offered and candles and incense burned to aid family members in finding their way home.

#4 Philippines

In some parts of the Philippines, children celebrate Pangagaluluwa on the 1st November. Children and young people roam the neighborhood, offering songs in exchange for food, candy, or money. A practice not related to – but slightly reminiscent of – trick or treating, the songs are supposed to aid deceased family members in their journey to the other side.

Now not as popular as it once was, Pangagaluluwa is a tradition that has continued in the provinces and rural areas. The modern-day practice of this centuries-old superstition is now more similar to Western trick or treating, with children often choosing to dress up in scary costumes for their musical journey around the neighborhood.

#5 Cambodia

Phchum Ben is a 15 day religious festival in Cambodia that also celebrates the afterlife. The word, ‘Ben’, means ‘to collect’ while ‘Phchum’ means ‘to congregate’. This festival is seen as a time when families get together to remember and celebrate their loved ones. Food is provided for the wandering spirits, with sweet sticky rice being particularly popular. A time to visit temples and pagodas to pay respect to ancestors or to spend time with elderly family members, this is one of the most important events in the Cambodian calendar.

#6 Guatemala

Guatemalans also celebrate the Day of the Dead. But in some parts of the country, they do it in a very unique way, with parades and kites containing messages for those that are deceased. The giant, beautifully colored and intricate kites are often more than 40 feet wide and just as high. It is believed that the higher they fly, the closer the messages get to reaching the dead. The 3000-year-old Mayan tradition is a truly impressive spectacle to behold!

#7 Romania

Halloween around the world is inspired by Bran Castle in Romania
Bran Castle in Romania

Count Dracula is based on the gruesome tales told about Vlad ‘the Impaler’ Tepes. So Bran Castle, a place Vlad was thought to be imprisoned for a time, in Transylvania provides an excellent setting for All Hallows Eve. The castle inspired Bram Stoker’s bloodthirsty tales and is rumored to be haunted with the spirits of those tormented by the Voivode of Wallachia. However, although there are parties and events, Halloween on the 31st October is not traditionally celebrated in Romania. Instead, similarly spooky festivities lie on the eve of St Andrews. On the 29th of November, it is believed that wolves gather around and the spirits come to surface. It is also thought to be an auspicious night that is particularly well-suited for spells and magic.

#8 China

In China, Halloween is not really celebrated by most people, except by expats and English teachers from Western countries. However, they do have several traditional days of the dead that have some similarities to our favorite festival. That includes the Hungry Ghost Festival, the Qing Ming Festival, the Double 9th Festival, and the Spring Festival. The seventh month of the China lunar calendar is ghost month, where the dead are released from hell to visit Earth. Such festivals of the dead in China are hundreds of years old. Many believe you should take precautions against evil spirits too, as well as honor loved ones who have passed away.

Ready for your own spooky Halloween party?

Are you ready to start celebrating with one of these Halloween traditions from around the world, you are lacking ideas? Here are 5 gory Halloween activity ideas for your perfect horror night.

If you’re partying virtually this year, make sure to take some ideas from this article on staying social while you socially distance to help you out!

Author

Hiya, I’m Maud. I’m an English girl who's moved to Berlin - because who wouldn’t fall in love with a country which has words like ‘Kummerspeck’ hidden around every corner... I love traveling and finding out the quirks of each country - and what better way to remember them then on a postcard?

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