How Does The Rest Of The World Celebrate Halloween?


Halloween is a holiday celebrated on October 31st of each year, Halloween is derived from “All Hallows’ Eve”, the eve before the Western Christian feast of All Hallows (All Saints) which is celebrated on November 1st. What I was curious about is how the rest of the world celebrates Halloween…

Let’s first take a peek at China, mainly Hong Kong and Japan. There are 2 big Halloween traditions in Hong Kong the first is called “Yue Lan” (Festival of the Hungry Ghosts). This is more of an opportunity to give gifts to spirits of the dead to provide comfort and ward them off. The second is the Hong Kong Disneyland and Ocean Park annual Halloween show, Lan Kwai Fong bars are decked out with decorations to lure ex-pats and locals in. Trick or treating is not common in Hong Kong nor in Japan. In Japan Halloween has only recently arrived, Japan celebrates with decorations and events at their Tokyo Disneyland and Universal Studios Japan just like Hong Kong does.

Now in Europe Halloween traditions have spread and become more popular since the 1990’s in countries like Germany, Norway, Sweden, Belgium Austria and the Netherlands. Students and children dress up and do parades to celebrate and trick or treating is only now becoming popular in those areas. An interesting tradition in Germany is that all knives are hidden away in fear of spirits hurting the living. England does not celebrate Halloween as much as North America but it is still celebrated, on All Souls’ Eve families would stay up late and little “soul cakes” were eaten. At the stroke of midnight homes would have candles burning in every room to guide souls back to visit and have a glass of wine on the table fresh for them.

As for Ireland Halloween is widely celebrated there, it is known in Irish as Oiche Shamhna meaning “Samhain Night”. Samhain is the name for the month of November. On Halloween night adults and children dress up as creatures from the underworld, light bonfires and enjoy firework displays. Homes decorate with pumpkins or turnips with scary faces carved into them and candles lit inside. Homes also make a Halloween cake called barmbrack which has objects baked into the cake, each item was used to tell a fortune. A pea, a stick, a piece of cloth, a small coin and a ring, if you received the pea then you would not marry that year, the stick “to beat ones wife with” you would have an unhappy marriage, the cloth you would have bad luck, the coin you would have good fortune and the ring meant you would be married within the year. Other than getting the coin or the ring it seems your odds for luck are not great I think I’d rather stick with NO cake…

So there you have it, it seems we celebrate Halloween a little more than everywhere else with parties, parades, haunted houses, trick or treating, festivals that include rides, food, fortune tellers and much more!

Happy (almost) Halloween everyone!!

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