If spooky pumpkins and scary costumes is all it takes to get a license to eat all the candy in the world, then hey, Halloween is our festival, right? Halloween is celebrated on 31st October to mark the three days, in the liturgical year, dedicated to remembering the dead. Interestingly, its origin has been tracked down to Celtic customs, some even having pagan roots.
Many folklorists tie it back to the Roman feast of Pomona, the goddess of fruits and seeds (We hope Pomona likes candy just as much as humans do).
Halloween wasn’t always about candy and family friendly activity though. People used to put out food and drinks at their doorsteps to keep ghosts out and dressed as ghosts to ‘blend in’ with them. Trick or treating actually was the poor accepting food, wine, and money in exchange for singing, poetry or comedy, basically entertaining. Today, Halloween is a 6 billion dollar industry, second only to Christmas in the United States of America. Countries around the world celebrate their own versions of Halloween.
Here’s us chirping about some spooky Halloween celebrations that caught our eye:
Ireland is home to one of the biggest Halloween celebrations, well naturally with it being the traditional birthplace and all. The festival has evolved from its pure Celtic form to welcoming the festival with bonfires, fortune-telling, party games and traditional food like barmbrack and Irish fruitcake. Irish fruitcake is stuffed with buttons, coins and rings, and the lucky lady to find a ring shall be married by next Halloween. Okay, that one’s probably an older tradition.
Trick-or-treating is fun with kids knocking on doors only to run away. Wonder how they manage to get the candy.
To sum up the fun and feast, they wrap it up with tons of beer, Irish style.
Image Courtesy – Pinterest
In Mexico, Latin America and Spain, All Soul’s Day is commemorated with a three-day celebration starting on Halloween in honour of the dead. It is believed they return to their earthly homes and so people decorate and cook their chief guests’ favourite food and make merry. They even leave a wash basin and towel for the dead to, you know, wash out the dirt of their journey from the beyond to our humble planet Earth.
Incense sticks are lit up in place of GPS and just so they’re happy with the family, their gravesites are tidied up too. Lastly, their best friends, tequila and a mariachi band join them while humans dressed as skeletons ensure their ancestors are duly remembered!
Image Courtesy: Travel Channel
Teng Cheih is the Chinese Halloween involving symbolic offerings of food and water to the photographs of the departed. The living light their path with bonfires and lanterns so that they can roam about the surface of the Earth without any difficulty.
An interesting custom they have is the burning of paper boats, some very large, to remember the dead. Worshippers in Buddhist temples also fashion these boats to free the spirit of the ‘pretas’ – those whose bodies weren’t given proper burial, like in the case of accidents. These souls have trouble transcending and so they linger on in the mortal world. So these worshippers take it upon themselves to help them achieve, what many understand as Moksha.
Image Courtesy: Maramouch
All Saints’ Day is the German version of Halloween, celebrated from October 30 to November 8. They focus on honouring the saints who have died for the Catholic faith as in many Catholic parts of the world. Typically, they spend the day attending Church, visiting graves of their family members, and remembering the dead in general.
An interesting custom is to hide all knives. Yes, they give up on the knives to protect the visiting spirits from unforeseen dangers. After all, the last thing you want to do is harm your guests by random knife movements during the day.
Image Courtesy: Desktop Nexus
Alla Helgons Dag (All Saints’ Day) is the Swedish Halloween celebrated from October 31 to November 6 since the 1990s. Between the summer holidays and Alla Helgons Dag, there are no extended weekends, no holidays, no half days – the Swedish work hard. So naturally, the weekend leading up to this fairly young Swedish holiday sees loads of off-days, sick workers, and half-days.
It’s the herald for the autumn break in schools and universities. The occasion is mainly celebrated by the young and instead of trick-or-treating, they go partying.
A major development in the country that’s taken place because of Halloween is the growth in demand and supply of pumpkins! Pumpkins are now readily available, unlike before. Feast away.
Image Courtesy: Ask Ideas
Halloween is celebrated around the world in different ways, some quirky while others traditional, but all of them beautiful! How does your country celebrate Halloween?