Halloween dates back centuries when it was widely celebrated in Celtic cultures. However, certain other countries are home to some Halloween-like or autumnal traditions of their own.
1. The Day of the Dead, Mexico
Although not strictly a Halloween celebration, it occurs around the same time. The skull is the most prolific symbol of the holiday. They gather in graveyards to eat, drink and remember their loved ones pay them respect. Very cool.
2. Leaving Bread and Water Out, Austria
Celebrants leave out bread and water before going to bed on Halloween night to welcome the souls of the deceased back to Earth. Accompanying the food and water is usually a lantern that’s kept burning through the night.
3. Halloween Chairs, Czech Republic
When they gather around a bonfire, they set out chairs for the deceased, so they can join the fiery fun, too – at least in spirit. Prayers and memories are often shared during this celebration.
4. Festival of Hungry Ghosts, China
This is not a Halloween celebration per se, and it occurs in August. However, it is Asia’s nearest equivalent to Halloween. The deceased are believed to visit the living on this day, and food and other offerings are set out during the yearly festiva. It traces its history back to Buddhist origins.
5. Hiding the Knives, Germany
Catholic communities celebrate All Saints from October 30 until November 8 and, during this time, families visit the graves of deceased loved ones to place flowers and say prayers… and they hide all the knives in the kitchen, lest malevolent spirits attack the living with them.
6. Carving Turnips, UK
Pumpkins are a New-World vegetable and are not native to Europe. It’s possible to see a similar tradition in Ireland, with beets or mangelwurzel as alternatives. Whatever gourd, squash or root vegetable is used, it’s a fun tradition that often produces elaborate carvings.
7. Alla Helgons Dag, Sweden
Halloween was imported to Sweden from the US in the 1990s, and many of the fun American traditions came with it. It’s known as Alla Helgons Dag here. It is becoming increasingly common for Swedish children to don costumes, carve pumpkins and have parties.
8. Lighting Bonfires, UK and Ireland
Bonfires have long been associated with Halloween in both the UK and Ireland and, in the case of the former, the celebration often coincides with Guy Fawkes Night on November 5. However, the sacred fires were once believed to ward away unfriendly spirits.
9. Odo Festival, Nigeria
Nigeria has a biannual tradition to honor the dead, The Odo Festival, is celebrated in the northern (ee-bo) Igbo villages. The first stage is welcoming festivities to bring the odo (dead) back. The second stage is the interim months where families co-exist and interact with their deceased relatives. The third stage is the emotional saying of goodbyes, as the ancestors are not due to visit again for two years.
10. Barmbrack, Ireland
Barmbrack is a type of sweet snack bread containing sultanas, raisins and other dried fruit. It has long served as a centerpiece of Irish Halloween celebrations. Tracing its origins as a type of fortune-telling game, the various ingredients used in barmbrack determined a person’s future. For example, a small coin might be placed inside the loaf, and whoever receives it in their serving should be married within the year.
Which of these traditions liked you the most?
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