Halloween remains one of the oldest holidays in the world, celebrated around the globe in myriad ways from Dia de los Muertos in Mexico to Pangangaluluwâ in the Philippines. While the United States and Canada focus on costume parties, pranks, and trick-or-treating, celebrations vary widely in other locations and exploring them remains a fun way to travel the world from the comfort of your own home.
Get ready to be inspired by these fall festivities as we explore Halloween around the world.
Mexico’s Dia de Los Muertos
El Dia de los Muertos represents in fact three days of vibrant celebration starting on October 31st and ending on All Saints Day on November 2nd. Besides Mexico, this holiday gets celebrated throughout Latin America and even Spain. Activities range from face painting and colorful costumed parades to overnight gravesite visits. Among the most iconic staples of this holiday remain the breads, foods, and candies baked and decorated to resemble skeletons and skulls.
During the three-day holiday, family members may do an all-night visit to the family cemetery or create an altar dedicated to their loved ones. They decorate this altar with photographs, flowers, candy, and the favorite foods and beverages of the dearly departed. To help them find their way back home, incense and candles burn, and some families even leave a wash basin and towels out for their ancestors to wash up before indulging in the offerings.
To close the holiday, family members gather at the graves of their loved ones on November 2nd. Then, they clean up and weed the cemetery decorating family plots with bright paper streamers, wreaths, and flowers.
Ireland and Scotland’s Samhain
Where did Halloween originate? Most historians argue that it came from the Celts of modern-day Ireland and Scotland. On October 31st, these Celts traditionally celebrated Samhain or Celtic New Year’s Eve, and it still gets celebrated in parts of the British Isles to this day.
Throughout the countryside, massive bonfires light up, and kids head out in costume to “trick or treat.” One of the tricks kids like to participate in is called “knock-a-dolly” and involves knocking on a neighbor’s door and then running away before the door gets opened.
Once the tricks conclude, families gather to play games and celebrate with parties. Among the games enjoyed by kids is “snap-apple,” the Scots-Irish version of bobbing for apples. In this game, an apple gets tied by a string to a tree or doorway and then kids try to take a bite out of it.
Many parents also organize a treasure hunt where kids search for candies and pastries. Or, they may set up a game where playing cards get laid face down on a table with candies or coins concealed beneath them. Kids take turns picking cards from the table and receiving the little surprises hidden beneath them.
The Philippines’ Pangangaluluwâ
As in Mexico, the period from October 31st through November 2nd marks an important time for remembering the dead in the Philippines. Festivities draw many Filipinos back to their hometowns.
While trick-or-treating continues to replace older customs, Pangangaluluwâ, akin to Christmas caroling, still gets practiced. During Pangangaluluwâ, children gather in groups and visit one house after another singing in exchange for food or money. Traditionally, these children sing about the souls in purgatory and money gets offered as a type of alms for the deceased’s souls.
Superstition holds that the spirits of the dead return in the middle of the night stealing small household items. The next day, these items mysteriously reappear. Since celebrating Christmas begins extra early in this part of the world, it’s very common to see Christmas and Halloween decorations side by side in October, too.
Travel the World through Halloween
As we head into the holiday season, it’s fun to take a moment to travel the world through Halloween traditions. From Dia de los Muertos to Samhain to Pangangaluluwâ, these holidays mix nostalgia about the past with kid-friendly traditions brimming with fun games, loads of candy, and costumed revelry.
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