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Halloween around the World   Tags: facs, food, halloween, world  

Last Updated: Nov 2, 2016 URL: Print Guide RSS Updates
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Encyclopedia of Holidays and Celebrations
Call Number: Ref 394.26 ENC



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The Ancient Origins of Halloween


Bet You Didn't Know: Halloween. History. A & E Networks, n.d. Web. 23 Oct. 2014.


Around the World: Customs and Traditions

The Festival of Lanterns, Obon, or the Festival of the Dead is held in August. It is a “homecoming” of sorts, where the spirits of ancestors visit living relatives. Many Japanese prepare special meals as offerings and hang lanterns in front of homes to guide the spirits.

During P’chum Ben, a celebration linked to the lunar calendar and often in September, Buddhists honor their dead by bringing sweet sticky rice and beans wrapped in banana leaves to temples and gather with family and friends to hear music and speeches by monks.

On All Saints Day, Nov. 1, Catholic Germans honor the memory of saints and visit the graves of family members. From October 30 to November 8, Germans hide knives so returning spirits won’t be hurt by everyday knife movements.

Similar to Germany, Austrian Catholics celebrate All Souls Week from October 30 to November 8. Some Austrians honor their dead relatives by turning on a lamp during the night and leaving bread and water.

During the festival Teng Chieh or the Feast of the Hungry Ghosts, lanterns and bonfires are lit to guide spirits back to Earth. Water and food are placed before portraits of dead relatives. Wandering ghosts are said to look for food, recognition and care in the afterlife.

Czech Republic
During the Commemoration of All the Departed at the end of autumn, Czechs place flowers and candles on graves. At home, they place a chair for each dead relative by the fireside. Legend has it that the living can speak to the dead, who can hear—and respond.

Many Italian families make bean-shaped caked called Beans of the Dead. In southern Italy, families prepare a feast for the departed relatives, then go to church, leaving their homes open so spirits can feast.

Children dress up, go trick-or-treating, and play a game called “snap-apple” where an apple is tied on a tree and kids attempt to bite the apple.

At home, families place food, drink and cempasúchil flowers near photographs of deceased relatives to welcome them back. On the Day of the Dead, people decorate skulls and create images of skulls and skeletons.


"Halloween Around the World: Customs and Traditions." Reader's Digest. Reader's Digest Association, n.d. Web. 23 Oct. 2014. <>.


Halloween in other Countries

Halloween in Other Countries

A Halloween tradition in Austria involves bread, water and a lighted lamp. Some of the locals will leave bread, water and a lighted lamp on the table before retiring on Halloween night. Considered a magical night, Halloween to Austrians was a way to welcome the dead souls back to earth.

In Belgium, some believe it is unlucky if a black cat enters a home or travels on a ship. Also, much like in the United States, Belgium citizens believe that it is unlucky for a black cat to cross one's path. On Halloween night, a custom there is to light candles in memory of dead relatives.

With the arrival of Scottish and Irish immigrants in the 1800s, modern Halloween celebrations in Canada began. Festivities include parties, trick-or-treating and the decorating of homes with pumpkins and corn stalks, as well as the carving of Jack O' Lanterns.

In China, the Halloween festival is known as Teng Chieh. Food and water are placed in front of photographs of family members who have departed while bonfires and lanterns are lit in order to light the paths of the spirits as they travel the earth on Halloween night. Worshippers in Buddhist temples fashion "boats of the law" from paper, which are then burned in the evening hours. There are two purposes to this custom: as a remembrance of the dead and in order to free the spirits of the "pretas" in order that they might ascend to heaven. "Pretas" are the spirits of those who died as a result of an accident or drowning and whose bodies were consequently never buried.

On Halloween night in Czechoslovakia, chairs are placed by the fireside. One chair is placed to commemorate each living family member and one for each family member's spirit.

While the Irish and Scots preferred turnips, English children made "punkies" out of large beets, upon which they carved a design of their choice. Then, they would carry their "punkies" through the streets while singing the "Punkie Night Song" as they knocked on doors and asked for money. Halloween became Guy Fawkes Night and moved a few days later. Recently, it has been celebrated on October 31st, in addition to Guy Fawkes Night.

Britain - Guy Fawkes Day
On the evening of November 5th, bonfires are lit throughout England. Effigies are burned and fireworks are set off. Although the day is around the same time and has some similar traditions, this celebration has little to do with Halloween. As Martin Luther's Protestant Reformation began to spread, the celebration of Halloween ended. In 1517, on Halloween, Martin Luther attempted to begin reformation of the Catholic Church. The formation of the Protestant Church was the result instead. They didn't believe in saints; therefore, they had no reason to celebrate the eve of All Saints' Day. However, a new autumn ritual did materialize. Guy Fawkes Day festivities were designed to commemorate the execution of a notorious English traitor, Guy Fawkes.

France - la fête d'Halloween
In France, Halloween is not celebrated to honor the dead. It is considered an ‘American Holiday’ and until 1996, it was virtually unknown in the country.

However, because of the love of parties, fêtes’ and costume events in France, a rapid rise of the holiday has been noticed in recent years.

Foreign residents brought details of Halloween to the country for years before remnants of the day began to stick in French culture. In 1982, the American Dream bar/restaurant in Paris began celebrating Halloween.

The village of Saint Germain-en-Laye held a Halloween party on October 24th, 1996, in the middle of the day, to give locals an idea of what the holiday was all about.

To not risk harm to, or from the returning spirits, in Germany, people put away their knives on Halloween night.

Hong Kong
Hong Kong calls their Halloween festivities, "Yue Lan", which translates into the Festival of the Hungry Ghosts. It is believed that spirits roam the world for 24 hours. To bring comfort to the ghosts, some believe that burning pictures of fruit or money will reach the spirit world.

Halloween is known as "Alla Helgons Dag" in Sweden. It is celebrated from October 31st until November 6th. "Alla Helgons Dag" has an eve, which is either celebrated or becomes a shortened working day. The Friday prior to All Saint's Day is a short day for universities while school-age children are given a day of vacation.


"Halloween: Its Roots and Traditions Around the World." WSAW-TV, n.d.  Web. 2"Halloween Traditions and Celebrations Around the World." Pumpkin Patches and N.p., 25 Aug. 2014. Web. 23 Oct. 2014. <>.3 Oct. 2014.


WorldBook Encyclopedia / Enciclopedia Estudiantil Hallazgos


Halloween es un festival que tiene lugar todos los años el 31 de octubre. En Estados Unidos y Canadá los niños se ponen máscaras y disfraces para ir de casa en casa. Van de puerta en puerta diciendo "jugarreta o dulce". Los vecinos les dan dulces o refrigerios saludables.

Durante la mitad del siglo xx ir casa por casa se hizo menos popular. La gente empezó a hacer más fiestas y festivales comunitarios para Halloween. En esas fiestas las personas cuentan historias sobre fantasmas y brujas. A veces juegan a atrapar con los dientes manzanas que flotan en una cuba con agua. También se divierten luciendo sus disfraces.

También es una actividad popular de Halloween tallar calabazas farol. Las calabazas farol son calabazas vaciadas y talladas con caras divertidas o aterradoras. La mayoría de las calabazas farol tienen dentro una vela u otra luz.

Halloween viene de los antiguos festivales de año nuevo y festivales de los muertos. Unos 1,200 años atrás la Iglesia católica convirtió el 1° de noviembre en día de Todos los Santos (All Hallows' Day, en inglés). Este día celebratorio permitió a las personas seguir teniendo un festival que habían celebrado antes de convertirse al cristianismo. La noche anterior al día de Todos los Santos se hizo conocida como víspera del día de Todos los Santos, que en inglés es All Hallow's Eve o All Hallow e'en, y de allí vino el nombre Halloween.

Hace mucho tiempo la gente creía que en Halloween los fantasmas vagaban por la tierra. También mucha gente creía que para Halloween se reunían las brujas. Hoy la mayoría de la gente no cree ni en fantasmas ni en brujas, pero estos siguen siendo parte de las festividades de Halloween.

"Halloween." Enciclopedia Estudiantil Hallazgos. World Book, 2016. Web. 3 Nov. 2016.  

la versión en inglés de este artículo World Book Kids  


Halloween is a festival that takes place every October 31. In the United States and Canada, children put on masks and costumes and go trick-or-treating. They go from door to door saying “trick or treat.” The neighbors give them candy or healthy snacks.

During the mid-1900's, trick-or-treating became less popular. People began having more Halloween parties and town festivals. At these parties, they tell stories about ghosts and witches. Sometimes they bob for apples in a tub of water. They also have fun showing off their costumes.

Carving jack-o'-lanterns is also a popular Halloween activity. Jack-o'-lanterns are hollowed-out pumpkins with funny or scary faces carved on them. Most jack-o'-lanterns have a candle or other light inside them.

Halloween came from ancient New Year festivals and festivals of the dead. About 1,200 years ago, the Christian Church made November 1 All Saints' Day. This holiday allowed people to keep a festival they had celebrated before they became Christians. The evening before All Saints' Day became known as All Hallows' Eve, or All Hallow e'en.

Long ago, people believed that ghosts roamed the earth on Halloween. Many people also believed that witches met on Halloween. Today, most people do not believe in ghosts or witches, but they are still part of Halloween.

"Halloween." World Book Kids. World Book, 2016. Web. 3 Nov. 2016.



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