It’s almost Halloween… and tis the season of creepy clowns, scary spirits and gruesome ghosts!
You probably know this holiday as a time of dress ups, lollies, and scary movies, but there are actually hundreds of different versions of Halloween all over the world. Depending on where you are, you could be celebrating Halloween by lighting bonfires, hiding your knives or even racing buffalo.
Here’s a look at Halloween traditions around the world.
If you’re in Japan, you’ll be celebrating with a Halloween parade!
It’s a fairly recent tradition, having started just over 21 years ago, but the Kawasaki Halloween Parade is one of the biggest celebrations in Japan! It attracts thousands of participants each year resulting in an impressive display of costumes, from zombies and ghosts to doughnuts and even handbags. Not just anyone can participate however, you need to apply for entry two months before the parade begins. Start thinking of that costume early!
If you’re in Cambodia, you’ll be celebrating with buffalo races!
The Cambodian version of Halloween is called Pchum Ben, or Ancestors’ Day. It’s a 15-day festival that honours Cambodian’s ancestors and past generations. People who live close to pagodas cook food for the monks and other visitors who come to the pagoda. It’s also believed the families deceased relatives will wait at the pagoda for the food. On the last day of the festival, people participate in an annual water buffalo race.
If you’re in Nepal, you’ll be celebrating with a cow parade!
To commemorate the dead in the last year, the Newar community in Kathmandu valley celebrate Gai Jatra, also known as Festival of Cows. As part of the festival, the families who have lost a relative during the past year participating in a procession, leading a cow through the streets of the town. And if the family doesn’t own a cow? No problem, a young boy from the family, dressed as a cow is considered a substitute.
If you’re in Ireland, you’ll be celebrating in the birthplace of Halloween!
Today’s celebrations origins stem from an ancient festival called Samhain which marked the end of the light half of the year and the beginning of winter.
Nowadays, the Irish celebrate by carving turnip lanterns, lighting bonfires and eating barmbrack. This is a traditional fruitcake filled that’s filled muslin-wrapped ‘treats’, like coins, buttons, and rings. These trinkets are used to tell their recipients fortunes for the coming year – rings mean marriage, while coins mean wealth.
If you’re in Germany, you’ll be hiding your knives!
It’s not for the reason you might think! Some people in Germany hide their knives around Halloween time, but it’s not to protect themselves from evil spirits or murderers… it’s actually to protect the visiting spirits from being harmed by any sharp objects!
If you’re in Mexico – you’ll be celebrating with tequila!
You know this one. Día de los Muertos (Day of the Dead), commemorates deceased family members with 2 days of upbeat celebrations. Unlike Halloween, it’s not all about the darkness and scares – Dia de los Muertos is actually full of colour and excitement. There’s plenty of mariachi music, skull-shaped sweets, and tequila and people also don bright costumes and makeup.
So, how are you celebrating Halloween? Maybe dressed as a cow while you eat barmbrack with tequila? Or will you stick with the classic bonfires, dress-ups and lollies?
If you’re in the festive spirit, check out our blog on strange Easter traditions around the world.