Ever wonder how Halloween is celebrated in different countries around the world? While many countries around the world celebrate a traditionally American Halloween, there are many other countries that have their own unique Halloween customs. There are lots of interesting traditions much different from the Halloween celebrations popular in the United States! Here are just a few of the most unique Halloween traditions from continents around the world.
Halloween in Spain & South America
While Halloween is a big deal in the United States, in Spanish speaking countries like Spain and South America, The Day of the Dead is a much more popular 3-day celebration. Beginning on November 1, The Day of the Dead is more about remembering the dead and lost family members than dressing up in fun costumes and collecting candy as we do in the United States. Children build altars honoring their ancestors and families visit cemeteries placing marigolds, known as the flowers of the dead, on graves.
Halloween in Eastern Europe: Czech Republic & Austria
In Eastern Europe, Halloween is a way of honoring lost loved ones and welcoming their spirits back home. Following an old tradition, families in Czech Republic gather around the fireplace together in the evening, with chairs set out not only for living family members, but also for those that have passed away… Talk about an awkward family reunion!
While Czechs set out chairs for spirits to sit on, in Austria an old Halloween custom is to set out food and water, offering refreshments to family ghosts after their long journey from the spirit world back to Earth.
Halloween in Africa: Ethiopia
Most Africans don’t celebrate Halloween, but Ethiopians celebrate Buhe, a holiday much like Halloween in America. Much like trick or treaters, during Buhe children go door to door asking for injera. They sing songs and will jump up and down until they get their treat. Unlike Halloween in the US, in Ethiopia children do not dress up in costumes for Buhe, which is celebrated on August 19.
Halloween in Asia: China and India
While the US and Europe usually celebrate Halloween and All Saints Day around the same time, non-Western nations have different times of the year to acknowledge the dead and the spirit world. Celebrated at different times every year, the two week festival of Pitru Paksha is India’s way of honoring the dead. Families perform Shraddha, or rituals, to welcome and please the souls of lost ancestors returning home during this sacred time. While Halloween customs in the US are pretty simple, performing Shraddha can be very complicated and complex.
The Teng Chieh festival is China’s answer to Halloween. While celebrated at a different time of year, Teng Chieh is similar in many customs to European Halloween customs. Families light fires and place food and water near photographs of lost relatives to guide their spirits back home.
As you can see, there are many different ways to celebrate Halloween and acknowledge the dead. Check out this interactive Halloween world map to find out even more about how different cultures honor the spirit world.
Author Bio: Sarah Bends is a travel writer who has traveled throughout Europe and Africa. She currently lives in America and loves to learn about other cultures and ways of life.