Looking for fun ways to learn more about Halloween around the world?
Find out how the world celebrates the spooky season with these 7 spectacular traditions and celebrations that you might have never heard of!
Celebrate Halloween Around the World with Your Kids
Celebrated on October 31st, Halloween is among the oldest and most popular holidays worldwide. Often, it’s associated with pumpkin carving, trick-or-treating, and spooky costume parties. Though these are the most iconic traditions, there are several other ways in which the world welcomes the spooky season.
There’s magic in the traditions followed by more minor parts of the world. And learning about them can be a fascinating way to celebrate Halloween.
As I was looking ahead and preparing for our Halloween unity study, I discovered some fascinating Halloween traditions that I can’t wait to share with my boys – and you!
7 Unique Halloween Around the World Traditions & Celebrations
1. Italy: Ognissanti
Alongside Halloween, Italians celebrate Ognissanti, which roughly translates to “All Saints’ Day.” The celebration starts around Halloween time. It is when deceased souls come to visit their living relatives.
During Ognissanti, people decorate cemeteries with fall decorations and make food for visiting spirits. You can also call it a mini-Christmas because people set out gifts for their children from deceased souls during this celebration.
Italians also celebrate Halloween, but Ognissanti is a unique Halloween around the world addition to the spooky season traditions.
2. México: Día de Los Muertos
Also known as the Day of the Dead, this Halloween tradition in Mexico celebrates life and remembers the loved ones that have been lost. Like Italy, Mexicans believe that deceased souls return for a visit on the 1st and 2nd of November.
Families build temporary altars (offrenda) and prepare treats to attract souls to reunite with family again. Like Ognissanti, families prepare treats like sugar skulls and tequila bottles that are placed in graveyards during this time.
It’s also about dressing up in gorgeous costumes, wearing unique makeup, and celebrating our lives. It is about celebrating the past and the present and not focusing on reuniting with loved ones one more time.
3. Japan: Obon Festival
Unlike America, where Halloween is about trick-or-treating, Japan focuses more on costume parties and dressing up for Halloween. Japan has other holidays (Obon Festival) dedicated to remembering the deceased, so adults tend to focus on partying during Halloween.
4. Ireland: Samhain
Samhain is an Irish event that originates from Celtic pagan practices to welcome the winter season. It’s celebrated on November 1.
Some of the activities include trick or treating, dressing up for parades, kids ringing neighbor’s bells and running away. Barmbrack (sweet bread with dried fruits) is a typical dessert prepared with a charm that determines how your next year will go.
5. Guatemala: Barriletes Gigantes, giant kites festival
The giant kites festival (known as Feria de Barriletes Gigantes) in Guatemala is a local attraction to celebrate “The Day of The Dead.” People make giant kites from local market materials and supplies and fly them in the cemeteries on November 1. These kites represent a bridge that connects the living and the dead.
Barriletes Gigantes, which translates to “Giant kites,” is a celebration that Guatemalans have been throwing for over 3000 years. They also thoroughly clean their loved one’s tombstones and arrange flowers. Children fly kites over the gravestones, and people remember their dear loved ones with smiles on their faces during this occasion.
6. Haiti: Fet Gede
Fet Gede is a festival in Haiti dedicated to the souls of the dead. It is celebrated on November 1st and 2nd. Vodouisants (Haitian practitioners of Voodoo) pay their respects to Baron Samedi (father of the deceased) during this festival.
It is a spiritual celebration that involves dancing, music, and preparing offerings to please the deceased and their souls. There is a deep connection between the living and the dead in the Haitian culture – Fet Gede is their way of respecting that culture. It is yet another Halloween tradition that focuses on joyous celebrations and bringing together families of the dead to remember the loved ones they lost.
7. China: Hungry Ghost Festival
The Hungry Ghost Festival, China’s Halloween celebration, is very different from what we’re commonly used to. To guarantee the well-being of wandering spirits, people offer food and incense and perform rituals. It’s one way that Chinese people highlight the interconnection between the two worlds.
This festival is held on the 15th day of the 7th lunar month of the year, allowing spirits to connect to the living world. In the evening, family members gather in an open setting and throw a feast to celebrate the occasion.
Unique Ways Halloween is Celebrated Around the World
Halloween is celebrated in many countries around the world. Although these celebrations are not all on the same dates, it’s fascinating to see the different traditions people follow. Learning about the holiday is a way to discover new things about cultures around the world.
How do you celebrate Halloween where you live? What Halloween traditions would you like to try?