5 Halloween Traditions from Around the World

It’s spooky season and that means its time to celebrate, but where your stereotypical Halloween comes from trick or treating, pumpkin patches, dressing up and everything sweet, 2020 has shown we can’t expect anything normal. In lieu of a trip around the local houses checking out their sweet collection, Here we will delve into how five different countries choose to celebrate in all their spooky (or not so spooky,) glory.

Mexico – DÍA DE LOS MUERTOS

Translating to ‘day of the dead,’ from November first to the second, Mexico and some parts of Latin America pay homage to those who have passed away. From Halloween night (October 31st) they believe heavens gates are opened for children’s souls to return to earth to reunite with their relatives. Following on November 2nd, the souls of the adults come down to join in the celebrations.

This holiday is celebrated with altars for the deceased, turkey, soda, hot chocolate, tortillas and a special festivity bread, known as Pan De Muertos translating to ‘bread of the dead,’ to aid ill stricken ghosts. Some families leave objects specific to those dead, including children’s toys, shots of alcohol and sometimes even candy is offered.

Poland – DZIEŃ ZADUSZNY

At the start of November, Polish people travel throughout the country to visit family graves, where they choose to celebrate with candles, flowers, prayers and sometimes offerings for their departed relatives. The next day is followed with a mass to mourn the souls of the dead. It is like the equivalent to All Souls day.

Nigeria – AWURU ODU FESTIVAL

This festival usually begins somewhere between September and November and departs in April. The Odo are the spirits of the dead who return to earth to visit their families every two years and usually appear in the form of costumed men wearing masks. Before they leave, they usually have a theatrical performance re-enacting the story of the visit and the sadness of their departure, featuring a crusading orchestra of different instruments.

The preparations are vast, men usually prepare shrines surrounded by fences for privacy of the returning spirits of the dead will worship and furnish new masks. The women are primarily responsible to ensure there is enough food to serve the Odo and visitors who may come to watch.

Each family will hold a welcome ceremony for its particular Odo group, but the big celebrations come in April where everyone gets together to celebrate. The Odo climb their way back to the land of the dead, taking the prayers of the living for abundant crops and many healthy children.

Romania – DAY OF DRACULA

People visit Romania from all over the world to celebrate Halloween at Count Vlad the Impaler Tepes’ home, located in the notorious city of Transylvania in Romania. Although this site isn’t technically his official residence, there are still guides and travel packages that offer tours for Halloween of the vampire’s residence, even if it is just for theatrical value.

Ireland – SAMHAIN

In Ireland, the traditional day of the Celts stems from an ancient pagan ritual called Samhain, meaning the end of the light half of the year. The concept of Halloween originated in Ireland as the festival first took place thousands of years ago.

One can see many games being played like snap apple, where apples are strung to doors and players attempt to bite the hanging apple. There is also an Irish card game where cards are laid down with candy or coins underneath, and when a child chooses a card, they receive the prize underneath.

A traditional food to be enjoyed is barnbrack, a type of fruitcake available in stores or home. A muslin wrapped treat baked inside is said to tell the eater their future fortune. These fortunes are shown through objects, like coins, buttons and rings. For example, the ring means nuptials are coming and the coins mean wealth in the upcoming years.

Published by Heather Dalgleish

21-year-old journalism student. Author and illustrator for In Full Bloom Magazine

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