Halloween Around the World
Halloween is an old holiday and it’s evolved from those first Druid & Celtic roots, to what’s celebrated today. In Canada and the US is where it’s most popular. Up to 65% of Americans decorate for Halloween and Christmas is the only holiday which is more popular. More candy is sold on Halloween than on any other holiday and every country which celebrates Halloween at all, does so in its own unique way.
Halloween in Austria
Just like at Christmas in North America with milk & cookies for Santa, Austrians have a tradition of leaving water, bread, and a lighted lamp on the table before going to bed on Halloween night. From long ago, the tradition held that these types of items would welcome any dead souls back to the land of the living. Austrians felt that Halloween was a night chock full of cosmic energy and this made the dead souls’ return for a night much easier.
Halloween in Canada
Irish and Scottish immigrants arrived in Canada during the 1800s. Festivities included trick or treating and parties, homes decorated with corn stalks and pumpkins, plus the carving of Jack O’Lanterns.
Halloween in Belgium
Belgian’s believe that a black cat crossing someone’s path is unlucky. If it goes on a ship or enters a home, then that’s also unlucky and Belgians light candles on Halloween to remember dead relatives.
Halloween in Czechoslovakia
Chairs are put by the fireside on Halloween and they are one per family member, plus one for each of their spirits.
Halloween in China
Halloween is known by Teng Chieh here. Water and food are placed in front of dead relatives’ photographs. Lanterns and bonfires are lit so that spirits can see the pathway back to earth. Buddhists make little boats from paper and these are burned when it gets dark and this honors the dead, plus spirits of pretas are released and can ascend into heaven. Pretas are people who died because they drowned or had an accident and their bodies weren’t able to be buried. If pretas roam amongst the living, the Chinese feel that it’s dangerous.
Halloween in England
English children used to carve beetroots like Jack O’Lanterns. They carried these “punkies” from door to door and sang, then asked for money. Turnip lanterns were placed on posts to protect the home form spirits roaming around on Halloween. Sometimes, stones, nuts and vegetables were tossed into a bonfire to scare away spirits and fortune telling was often read into the remains of the bonfire in the morning. The English people no longer celebrated Halloween when Martin Luther had his protestant reformation. Costumes and trick or treating have crossed back over the pond into England and the children there go out on Halloween. Most seniors in England don’t know what it’s all about.
Halloween in France
Until 1996, Halloween was thought of as an American holiday and the French do not celebrate it to honor the dearly departed.
Halloween in Germany
Residents of Germany put their knives away on Halloween because returning spirits could be harmed.
Halloween in Japan
In Japan, the Obon festival is similar to Halloween. Food is prepared and red lanterns are hung all over. When lit candles are placed into the lanterns they are set adrift on rivers. Families light fires to show ancestors the path to their families and community dances are put on, and memorial stones are cleaned during the Obon Festival. The Japanese festival happens during August or July.
Halloween in Ireland
This is supposed to be the birthplace of Halloween. Bonfires are lit in the countryside and children dress in costumes then go trick or treating. Parties are given in neighborhoods and games are played, one of which is bobbing for apples. A type of fruitcake is eaten on Halloween and a treasure is buried inside for someone to find.