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Halloween Around the World

by Eugenia Lazaris

Oct 28, 2019

Rawpixelimages | Dreamstime.com

Travel Tips

Halloween is not only a family-favorite holiday in America, it’s a time-honored tradition. It’s the one time of year when kids of all ages can dress up in crazy costumes, solicit candy from complete strangers and get their spook on. No matter how old we get, the traditions of Halloween invoke feelings of fun, adventure and nostalgia, but Americans aren’t the only ones getting in on the fun.


Halloween traditions are deeply rooted in the ancient Celtic Festival of Samhain, in which people wore costumes and lit bonfires to ward off the spirits of the dead believed to return to Earth for the night. In America, the festivities evolved into trick or treating, bobbing for apples and turning our homes into haunted houses of horror. In other parts of the world many of these same traditions are shared along with a few more that are equally fun and creative.


If you plan to spend your October abroad, then Ireland, the birthplace of Halloween, is the place to be. In this country you’ll find all the classics — ghosts and witches, trick-or-treating and Jack O’Lanterns, along with some unique traditions more directly related to the traditions of Samhain. In addition to dressing up in spooky costumes and decorating houses with carved pumpkins, on All Hallow’s Eve, Irish families enjoy games of snap-apple (attempting to bite an apple hanging from a string) and sharing a barmbrack, a traditional Irish fruitcake made with raisins and sultanas with a treat baked inside. The lucky one to find the treat is expected to have good luck in the year ahead. On Oct. 31, Irish cities host bonfires, carnivals and parades while many of the country’s most celebrated “haunted” castles host tours and events.


Halloween is becoming an increasingly popular holiday in Japan thanks to this annual opportunity to stretch the imagination with creative costuming. Rather than focus on family-friendly activities like trick-or-treating, Halloween in Japan is all about the costumes and the merriment. Bars and restaurants capitalize on the holiday by hosting events while street parties are popular in the larger cities.


Mexico, along with other Latin American countries, is well-known for its Día de los Muertos (Day of the Dead) celebrations, but many people aren’t aware Día de las Brujas (Day of the Witches) is also recognized. While Día de los Muertos is a day to honor the dead that return to Earth for 24 hours with parties, parades, treats and colorful costumes marked by sugar skull face painting, Día de las Brujas occurs Oct. 31 and is a day for children to partake in the fun by dressing up in costumes and going trick or treating.


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