Published 29th October 2021

Halloween pumpkins

If you can believe it, it’s Halloween already!

And while you are probably familiar with the pumpkins and trick-or-treating of Halloween in the United States, you might not realise that there are a number of different ways to celebrate Halloween. Just like Easter or Christmas, how you celebrate Halloween depends on where you are.

Here are some Halloween festivities which take place around the world.

Halloween in Ireland and Scotland

The origins of Halloween can actually be traced back to an ancient Celtic festival called Samhain. Samhain marked the changing of the seasons from summer to winter. According to Celtic beliefs, this also marked the time when the border between the land of the living and the land of the dead became blurred.

In other words, on this one night, the souls of the dead are able to cross into the physical world. People would dress in costumes to disguise themselves from the spirits. They would then walk from house to house reciting poetry in exchange for food. Bonfires were lit to keep the darkness away and jack-o-lanterns were carved out of turnips to scare off evil spirits.

As you can see, a number of our modern Halloween traditions come from this time.

These days, Halloween is celebrated in Dublin with a Samhain festival and a fire festival is held every year in Edinburgh.

Halloween in Japan

Japanese celebrations are decidedly more adult in nature than what we might be used to. Rather than trick or treating, there are loads of Halloween parties and cosplay events. There is also the Kawasaki Halloween Parade, which is usually attended by thousands of people in costumes. This parade is serious business: in order to participate in the parade, you need to apply for a ticket, pay a fee and adhere to strict dress guidelines.

Halloween in Japan

Halloween in the Philippines

Halloween is celebrated in the Philippines as Pangangalaluwa. Children wear costumes and go door-to-door to sing and ask for prayers for those in purgatory.

Halloween in Italy

In Italy, Halloween is celebrated at the same time as Ognissanti. This is when the souls of the dead come back to visit their living relatives. Food is left out or a place is set at the table for the spirits, and chrysanthemums are left on the graves of both family members and strangers. In some areas, children are given gifts.

Read more: Top European Destinations for TEFL Teachers

Halloween in Poland

In early November, people in Poland celebrate All Saint’s Day. On this day, people travel to visit the graves of their family members in cemeteries. They take candles and flowers with them, and cemeteries all over the country are beautifully decorated.

Halloween in Poland

Halloween in Mexico

While celebrated at around the same time as Halloween, Mexico celebrates El Dia de Los Muertos, or the Day of the Dead. This is a 2-day celebration held over November 1st and 2nd in honour of ancestors and deceased relatives. It is believed that at midnight on October 31st the gates of heaven are opened and the souls of the deceased are reunited with their families for a short time. The celebrations include flowers, food, festivals, picnics and images of intricately decorated skulls and skeletons.

Day of the Dead

Halloween in Germany

While Germans don’t strictly speaking celebrate Halloween, they celebrate All Saints’ Day between October 30 to November 8. During this time, people attend church, honour saints, and visit deceased relatives at their graves. People also hide their knives at this time so that the spirits won’t be harmed when they visit.

Read more: Teach English in Germany

Halloween in the United States

Perhaps not surprisingly considering its origins, Halloween wasn’t celebrated in the United States until the 19th century, when the country saw an influx of immigrants from Scotland and Ireland. These days Halloween is a massive celebration, with people of all ages dressing up in costumes and going door-to-door trick-or-treating.

Even though there are many countries that don’t celebrate Halloween, there is a good chance you’ll be able to find a party if you feel like dressing up and having some Halloween fun. Where would you like to celebrate Halloween next year?

Halloween pumpkins