From parades, paying respect to departed souls, to singing and dancing, every culture has a unique version of Halloween.
Experts trace back Halloween to the times of the ancient Celtic festival of Samhain. The Celts who lived in and around present Ireland, Northern France, and the UK 2000 years ago celebrated their new year on November 1.
It was originally celebrated to ward off ghosts and evil by lighting bonfires and wearing costumes. Later, with the passage of time, the rituals evolved and took new forms. While Halloween is mostly celebrated in its contemporary form nowadays, some rituals of the past have found a way to remain in different cultures.
While Halloween is huge in the US, other countries have their unique way of celebrating Halloween.
As the country of origin, Ireland has a mirthful and intimate way of commemorating the day. Close to the ancient roots, there are Halloween parades, where kids and adults dress up as zombies. They also add dead dolls and fake blood to their costumes making it spookier. They gather together in large groups and enjoy meals together. There is also a custom of having cakes that have prizes embedded in them—like coins and rings.
Yes! Portugal commemorates Halloween, too. Here the day is focused more on the kids. In the morning (November 1), kids go door to door to greet their neighbors and ask for little treats. They are given little prizes in return. Instead of calling it “trick-or-treat,” Portuguese kids say "Pão-por-Deus" (pronounced as pow pour Dee-us), which means "bread for God."
In Austria, Halloween is called "Seleenwoche" or All Souls' Week and in Germany, it is called All Saints' Day. The celebrations in both countries are week-long, beginning from October 30 to November 8. During this week, Catholics visit the graves of their loved ones. They leave water, food lamps on a table as a part of their welcome and homecoming. On November 2 or All Souls' Day, Catholics attend a special Requiem masses, where they remember those who may be close to them that have died.
Like Austria, Italy also remembers their beloved departed ones on Halloween or Ognissanti. They visit the graveyard to offer flowers to the tomb of the deceased ones. They also light red candles and leave them on their window as a gesture of remembrance towards the departed souls.
No country celebrates Halloween better than Mexico does. Called Día de los Muertos or the Day of the Dead, the rich tradition involves paying respects to the departed souls and celebrating family. The events revolve around a huge feast with close friends and family. People parade in skeleton and ghoul costumes. There is skull-shaped treats, many kinds of foods, and lots of dancing, singing, drinking, and making merry. There is a lot of mariachi music and tequila that do the rounds as well in some communities.