Halloween: How the World Celebrates It

Halloween is one of the world’s oldest events celebrated every year, on the night of October 31. Tracing back its history, it began in Ireland way back pagan times. Ancient festivals and religious rituals are the concepts behind the holiday. It has been a practice to prepare for the night, as souls will visit the mortal world. It is also known as “All Saints Day” or “All Soul’s Day.”

Photo credit: www.freeinternetpictures.com

But why do people around the world uphold the creepy tradition?  Although it’s about dead spirits, more people around the world create fun-filled activities that both young and old could enjoy. Today, the common marks of the eve are costume parties, trick-or-treat, jack-o-lantern, visiting haunted houses, pranks, and games.

Here’s how different countries revel the holiday:

Ireland

It all started in 1000 AD. Back then, the event was called “Samhain” or “end of summer”, a pagan festival. The Celts believed that the dead’s spirits would visit the world on the eve of Halloween. Thus, the Irish would make bonfires to fend off spirits. Also, they will dress up in disguises by wearing animal skins and heads. From this custom came the practice of wearing costumes. Then, many of their traditions spread throughout other countries. Now, trick-or-treating, costume parties, and games are the common ways to spend the night.

Austria
Also known as Seleenwoche or All Soul’s week, Austrians deem this night as magical. They leave bread, water, and a lit lamp on the table to welcome the spirits. Likewise, they also do rituals to call the souls back. For many Catholics, they remember the dead from October 30 to November 8.

Europe
During the English Halloween or All Saints Day Eve, families stay up late and light candles in all rooms to guide souls. They have this tradition called “souling,” where they bake and give away soul cakes. They give these cakes to children who visit them to sing and say prayer for the dead.

Germany
It is a German tradition to keep all knives away on the eve of October 31. They do this to prevent the living from harming the spirits, and so as the souls to humans. People attend in costumes to fill the event with horror.

United States

Photo credit: americanenglish.state.gov

Americans enjoy the holiday with parties among family, friends, and co-workers. Children go for trick-or-treat. They wear fancy costumes and visit many homes to ask for sweets or a small gift. Some carve pumpkins and turn them to lanterns with scary faces. As a tradition, they do this to keep evil spirits away from their homes.

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