Halloween is one of the biggest festivals in Western countries, with the full name All Hallows’ Eve. I t is celebrated annually on October 31, before the Christian feast of All Saints, which marks the end of the harvest and the beginning of the cold winter.
This festival originated with the Celts who lived more than 2000 years ago in the territories that are now part of Great Britain, Ireland, and northern France. The Celts believed that on Halloween night, the veil between the worlds of the living and the dead become thin, and the spirits could return to the Earth, which is also the origin of popular practices such as lighting fire and dressing up in spooky costumes during this day.
The United States
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In the United States, Halloween is one of the best and biggest events that are celebrated by people of all ages. This is also the time for people to dress up in their favorite characters and show their extraordinary styles, from ghosts, spirits, and creepy monsters to animals, cartoon characters, famous people, etc.
The most significant features of Halloween here are the large sculptured pumpkins, haunted houses, and the “trick or treat” game for kids. On Halloween night, children will dress up in costumes, and knock on the doors of the neighbors to ask for candies and pull tricks on people.
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At Halloween time, people living in the cities will carry lanterns made from pumpkins or turnips, parade through the streets, and sing the song “Punkie night”. In the countryside, people make lanterns out of turnips and place them in front of their houses to protect themselves from evil spirits.
The British also throw stones, vegetables, and coals into the fire to scare away wandering spirits. For couples, this custom is a “prophecy” for marriage: if coal explodes when thrown into the fire, they will have an unhappy marriage.
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In Germany, Halloween is celebrated from October 30 to November 8. On this occasion, Germans will come to the church to pay respects to the Saints who died for the Catholic faith, visit graves and remember deceased family members.
Especially, during this day, people also hide knives and scissors in the house, in order to avoid injuring the souls of their loved ones.
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Even though Halloween is not this country’s traditional festival, Japan is still well–known for some of its most creative and scariest dress-up costumes.
The popular cosplay culture among young people in Japan in recent years makes Halloween even more colorful. Every year, Japan has hundreds of cosplay festivals, but Halloween is always the most special time. What makes the highlight of Japanese Halloween is the “spooky” parades on the streets, public places, subways, etc, which attract a lot of citizens to join in with the crowds.
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In Ireland, Halloween is also called “Samhain”. As the place where Halloween was born, Ireland is one of the countries that have the biggest celebration for this festival.
This day is greeted with bonfires, games, and traditional treats like Barmbrack – a fruitcake containing coins, buttons, rings, and other oracle items.
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Austrians often go to cemeteries, visit and decorate the graves of loved ones with wreaths, candles, or vases of water. On Halloween, October 31, the Austrians do not hold a masquerade party but put a glass of water and bread, and light a candle on the table before going to bed. They believe this will invite the souls of their loved ones back during Halloween.
|Photo: The Guardian
“Dia de los Muertos” (Day of the Dead) of Mexico held from October 31 to November 2 every year is one of the largest ghost-themed festivals in the world.
This holiday is popular all over Mexico, even in small villages. During Dia de los Muertos, Mexicans arrange an altar or ofrenda in their homes to welcome the deceased back to their families to celebrate this day with them.
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In Korea, there is a festival that is familiar to Halloween is Chusok. On this occasion, Koreans give thanks to their ancestors for blessing them with all the success and happiness in life. Koreans will visit the graves of their loved ones, bringing rice and fruit to give thanks to the deceased.