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Maria Asaad
Blog, Travel tips,
Spooky season is officially upon us! As we countdown to the big day and prepare for all the trick-or-treaters and array of creative costumes, let’s take a look at how various countries all over the globe mark the occasion.

Samhain, Ireland & Scotland

Known as the origin of Halloween, Samhain is one of the most interesting traditions that takes place every year. Held in Ireland and Scotland, the Celtic festival marks the end of summer by holding Halloween customs to welcome in the colder winter season. A lot of baking occurs where locals bake and eat Barmbrack, a cake filled with raisins and candied citrus, and livestock being slaughtered to add to the feasting.

Older traditions believed the border between the world of the dead and the world of the living was dissolved, so for one night, the souls and spirits of the dead would disguise themselves in costumes and go from house to house, reciting poetry in exchange for food. This carried on into the modern world and became the beloved trick-or-treating tradition carried out by kids all over the world today.

If you visit Ireland or Scotland this Halloween, you will be treated to the annual Samhain parade in Dublin and local traditional food like barmbrack. Edinburgh hosts a Samhain fire festival every year, and local sausage is enjoyed during the festivities. 

Dia de Los Muertos, Mexico

The Dia de Los Muertos, translated as the Day of the Dead, occurs between 31st October and 2nd November in Mexico. It is a culturally rich tradition where families come together to be reunited with the souls of deceased relatives during Halloween. Even though the name doesn’t suggest so, it is a fun time of festivities to celebrate life filled with lots of colour and joy.

Day of the Dead is very similar to other Halloween traditions from around the world as it includes an array of activities such as dressing up in bright colours, throwing elaborate parades and singing and dancing in the streets.

The thing that makes this particular Halloween tradition stand out from the rest is the offerings made to loved ones who have passed on. Families will go all out by building temporary altars and lay down their deceased ancestor’s favourite foods, amongst other offerings like tequila bottles and marigolds. These offerings are believed to encourage the spirits to the altars to be reunited with their living family members. 

Kawasaki Halloween parade, Japan

The majority of Halloween traditions around the world are targeted at kids; this, however, is not the case in Japan. Halloween celebrations tend to have an adult overtone with the array of parties and cosplay happening all over the country. They don’t follow usual Western traditions like trick-or-treating; they take pride in going all out with costumes, throwing massive street parties and elaborate flash mobs.

Japan first went big with Halloween in 2000 when it was celebrated in Tokyo Disneyland and has since blown up into an annual massive celebration. One of the biggest Halloween events in the country is the famous Kawasaki Halloween parade, featuring over 4000 costumed partygoers. Attendees take the parade very seriously by putting a lot of effort into their costumes and applying at least two months in advance to secure a spot.

Halloween trains are also a massive thing in Japan with the usually tranquil and calm transport modes transformed into wild party trains to mark the occasion.  

La Festa di Ognissanti, Italy

Italy takes a bit of a different stance towards Halloween by celebrating modern practices alongside older and more traditional festivities. La Festa di Ognissanti is celebrated over two days; on the 1st of November, locals celebrate All Saints Day, commemorating and honouring the martyrs and saints of the Catholic church.

November 2nd is All Souls Day or Day of the Dead, where deceased loved ones are remembered and commemorated. Families come together to leave chrysanthemums on loved ones’ graves and attend mass together. Food is also left out for visiting spirits as the barrier between the dead and the living is broken during this day.

Various regions in the country hold their own traditions to mark the occasion. In Sicily, it is believed that well-behaved children will receive sweets and small gifts from passed souls, and in Lombardy, it is expected that a vase of water should be left in the kitchen for the dead to drink while they visit during the night.