Today, children across Canada will dress up in costumes and head door-to-door to collect sweet treats, from neighbours and friends. Halloween, it is an event that is widely held across Canada and North America, however it is not celebrated worldwide. Read on to learn a little bit more about Halloween and how it is celebrated in a variety of countries.
Halloween, also known as “All Hallow’s Eve” or “Hallowed Evening,” among other names, is an ancient Celtic festival that dates back to 1745. It was formerly believed that on this day the line between life and death became mutable and ghosts of those who had passed away came back to earth. This celebration of the dead during Celtic times often coincided with the fall harvest when they would begin to stockpile food for the winter (this could be our modern interpretation of collecting candy). Halloween has been moulded into what we celebrate on October 31 each year. Other countries that celebrate Halloween similarly to North America include: Austria, Germany, the Netherlands, England, Sweden, Mexico and Belgium.
Despite our Halloween customs in North America, there are many other countries that celebrate Halloween differently. In China, they celebrate Teng Chieh where they honour the dead in their culture by placing food and water in front of pictures of family members who have passed away. They have fires and bonfires to light paths for the spirits as they travel the earth on Halloween night.
In Japan, they celebrate Obon, also known as the Festival of Lanterns. This festival is held in August, instead of October. This celebration is very different from our idea of Halloween, wherein they believe ghosts of relatives and friends come back to visit instead of haunt. Families in Japan light a lantern and hang it outside their homes as night falls, to guide their loved ones home. At the end of the evening, the families float the lanterns down rivers into the ocean to lead the spirits of their loved ones back into the realm of the dead.
Mexico celebrates Los Dias de la Muertos – Day of the Dead Festival – a time in which they invite the dead to return to their home to visit. Mexican families will often offer food, drink, and gifts to their loved ones who have passed away and will gather at their gravesite at night to keep vigil and have a fiesta.
Halloween may not be celebrated the same across the world, but one thing many countries have in common is to celebrate those who have passed away, and honour their spirits.
Happy Halloween Everyone!