Happy Halloween! Whether you’re going all out with a crazy costume and spooky decorations for your home or would rather just sit the whole thing out and wait for the eeriness to pass, we think you’ll find these international Halloween traditions rather interesting!
On November 1st and 2nd, Mexico and parts of Latin America celebrate Dia de los Muertos (Day of the Dead). At midnight on October 31st, it is believed the gates of heaven open and the souls of children return to earth to be reunited with their families for 24 hours. The following night, the souls of adults come down to join in the fun. Food and drinks are left out for the dead, and families dress up in costumes and gather to remember and pray for the departed. The day is seen as a celebration rather than a day of sadness as loved ones awake and celebrate with their families.
It wasn’t until the 19th century when an influx of Irish immigrants settled in North America that Halloween was widely celebrated. As most of us know, Halloween is big in the USA, celebrated with plenty of trick-or-treating, creepy costumes, decorations and pumpkin carving. Unlike in the UK where you might get one or two knocks on the door from costume-clad kids (if any), American households are sure to stock up on lots of sweets for the countless trick-or-treaters appearing on the doorstep throughout the evening.
The tradition of Pangangaluluwa in which children visit every house in their neighbourhood and sing songs about souls in Purgatory in exchange for money or food is slowly being replaced with the more Western-style trick-or-treating. However, during the night, items such as plants and clothing will mysteriously ‘disappear’, only to be discovered outside the next morning, apparently being taken by spirits.
As the birthplace of Halloween, it’s no surprise that the country holds the largest Halloween celebration in Europe. The city of Derry is home to a multi-award-winning spooky festival that attracts 40,000 visitors from all over the world each year and was crowned the Best Halloween Destination in the World by USA Today in 2016.
November 1st marks All Saints’ Day, followed by All Souls’ Day the day after, and is a public holiday for most of the country (and much of Europe). On this day, families will visit each other, and for those named after saints, it’s a day for celebration for them too. All Souls’ Day is a time to remember the dead and is celebrated with prayers, food and flowers. In some parts of Italy, children will hunt for treats left by departed relatives, while in others, families will set an extra place at the table for those no longer with them.
Visitors from around the world will flock to the real Dracula – Vlad The Impaler’s – alleged home – Bran Castle – in Transylvania, where tours and parties are held over Halloween. As you can expect, there are many Dracula-inspired costumes and performances to be seen!