Haloween Around the World
Halloween is one of the most anticipated holidays of the year for many around the world, often associated with crazy costumes, terrifying hay rides, pumpkin carving, and lots and lots of candy. However, there is a lot more history to this holiday than many of us know about.
The name “Halloween'' itself is directly related to the old European celebration of All Hallows’ Eve, the eve of the Christian feast of All Hallows’ Day (also known as All Saint’s Day). The festival celebrated the hallows, which means saints, as opposed to magical objects aka Harry Potter. Everybody would dress up as Saints, recite songs and go door to door asking for "soul cakes" - sound familiar?
Another ancient tradition that precedes Halloween celebrations is the ancient Gaelic festival of Samhain. The festival celebrated the changing seasons, shortened days, and involved connecting with the dead. It became a more light-hearted affair, later brought across the Atlantic by Irish and Scottish immigrants, where it became the Halloween we know.
So while the history of Halloween is long and complicated, it inspires some of the most vibrant and exciting celebrations around the world. Here is the list of some of them:
This is a no-brainer, very few places in the world conjure the spirit of Halloween the way Transylvania does, thanks to everybody’s favorite bloodsucker, Count Dracula.
You can join a pilgrimage of tourists flocking to Transylvania to celebrate Halloween on the grounds of Bran Castle, which was Dracula’s real castle. You read that right, Dracula’s REAL Castle. The celebrations include costumes, drinks, dancing, music, and even scary food trucks with hopefully not-so-scary food. There are also beautiful places to go hiking or explore more of the fascinating local history.
Prague, the Czech Republic
Prague’s stunning medieval architecture, haunting backstreets, and shadowy corners are a great place to spend October 31st. Numerous events including the iconic Trick-or-treating, flamboyant parades, carnivals, storytelling festivals, themed fairs and markets, and pumpkin carving workshops take place all over the city. The town is filled with ghoulish local legends, haunted cemeteries, and even a Torture Museum if that’s your thing.
Talk about Celtic Roots - many Halloween traditions in Scotland can be traced directly to Samhain. One of these traditions is “guising” which involved kids going door to door carrying lanterns made out of turnips, and folks attempting to grab an apple from a bucket of water with their mouth only. Scots take their Halloween celebrations seriously, and have dedicated many poems to the holiday, including the famous “Halloween” by Robert Burns - put it on your Halloween reading list.
England is full of scary castles, haunted locations, and morbid tales but London is the place you want to be for Halloween.
You have ancient buildings, ghostly attractions, dark dungeons - everything you need to properly celebrate Halloween, which London does with festivities across town, These include the Jack the Ripper Walk following the Victorian serial killer’s old haunts across East London, the famous London Dungeons, the Camden Halloween Carnival, and horse-drawn rides in Richmond Park.
México has the famous Día de los Muertos, or the Day of the Dead, celebration on November 2nd. Mexicans believe that on this day, the spirits return to be together with their families. The festivities start on October 31st and last 3 days - there are elaborate rituals, night-time processions, night-light vigils, and carnival-like processions. Some of the best places to experience the celebrations are at Oaxaca, Mexico City, Mixquic, and surprisingly Los Angeles in the US.
Pop-quiz - which city is considered to be the Halloween Capital of Asia? You guessed it right, it is Hong Kong!
The city has fully embraced Halloween and its most fun traditions. You can find tons of special events in Disneyland and Ocean Park theme parks, complete with food, drinks, and festive costumes. Also visit the Lan Kwai Fong Halloween Street Party and the more traditional Hungry Ghost Festival (or Yue Lan) where people give gifts to spirits of the dead.