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Halloween Traditions by Country 2024

Halloween has been around in one form or another for hundreds of years. It started as a Celtic pagan holiday, and was eventually Christianized as All Hallow's Eve. The Halloween tradition, which began in Scotland and Ireland, spread to the United States in the 18th and 19th centuries. During this period, many people emigrated from Scotland and Ireland to America, bringing the Halloween tradition with them. Today, Halloween and related holidays such as Day of the Dead are celebrated in approximmately 40 countries (and counting) all over the world.

Halloween has been challenged by religious activists throughout history due to its pagan origins. However, the Christianization of All Hallow's Day means that Halloween traditions around the world are popular in many nations with a high Christian population. The countries where Halloween is extremely popular include the United States, The Philippines, Scotland, and Ireland.

Halloween Celebrations in the United States

Halloween is often celebrated in the United States by wearing costumes. Many children go door to door in their costumes and ask for candy. This practice is known as "trick-or-treating." Adults also celebrate Halloween in the United States. They also wear costumes, though they commonly go to adult-oriented costume parties rather than going door-to-door.

Other Halloween traditions in the United States include pumpkin carving and lawn decoration. It is customary for people to carve a face, usually a creepy face, into a large pumpkin. This pumpkin is often displayed in the front yard of the house. Many people also decorate their front yards with skeletons, ghosts, and bats.

Halloween in The Philippines

In The Philippines, Halloween is celebrated very differently than it is in the United States. Poor children in rural areas of The Philippines often engage in souling, which is known as "Pangangaluwa." This involves going door-to-door and offering prayers for the inhabitants of each household. In return, the children often get bread or candy. These children may also sing hymns for candy or bread.

Halloween in Scotland & Ireland

Halloween is still very popular in Scotland and Ireland, where the holiday originated. Here, Halloween is celebrated much like it is in the United States. Children dress in costumes, a practice that is called "guising" in Scotland and Ireland. They then go from door to door asking for candy or spare change. Unlike the United States, where children often shout "Trick or treat!" Scottish and Irish children often shout "Help the Halloween party!" However, the American phrase seems to be becoming more popular among Scottish and Irish children in recent years.

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Halloween Traditions
Italy“The Souls Day” on November 1st is celebrated in Italy with traditional food and customs. One of the favorite preparations is “Fave dei Morti” a traditional cookie recipe that is offered as a ritual offering to the dead and gods of the nether world.
Czech Republic“The Day of the Dead” is called “Dušičky,” which many Czechs mark by visiting cemeteries and graves of departed loved ones. Another Czech tradition is to place chairs around the fireplace on Halloween night: One for each living family member and one for the spirit of each departed family member.
PolandThough the Americanized version of Halloween is rarely celebrated, most Polish celebrate Forefathers' Eve, an old Slavic custom that has been syncretized with the Christian celebrations of the All Souls' Day held on November 2nd. During Forefathers' Eve, there's a silent procession to ancestors' graves, where a grave candle is lit and placed on the graves of relatives and friends. On this night, extra places are also set at dinner tables, so the spirits of the dead can join in. After dinner, leftover food is taken to the cemetery.
United KingdomThe Scots, Irish, English, and Welsh all celebrate Halloween alongside the Gaelic festival of Samhain.
ChinaThe locals celebrate a festival known as Teng Chieh (The Festival of the Hungry Ghosts) where food and water are placed in front of photographs of family members who have departed. Lanterns are also lit to light the paths for spirits wandering the earth on the festival's eve.
RomaniaThe historic region Transylvania was located in modern-day Romania, which makes Halloween an ideal time to learn more about the legend of Count Dracula, arguably the world’s best-known vampire, and his real-world inspiration: historic Romanian ruler and national hero Vlad III (also known as Vlad the Impaler). Some residents and tourists may take trips to his castle, while others wait until the 30th of November to celebrate Noaptea Strigoilor, the "Night of the Spirits".
GermanyModern Halloween celebrations are somewhat new in Germany, but old traditions associated with All Souls Day include putting away knives on Halloween night to prevent harm from returning spirits. Today, in major cities, particularly university towns, local youth and expatriate English teachers enjoy dressing up and getting together for drinks and parties in a variety of local clubs and bars.
JapanMany Japanese youth are fond of dressing in costume and throughout major cities, locals and expats gather for boisterous Halloween celebrations.
AustriaMany families in Austria leave a table with food, drink and a lantern to welcome the spirits of relatives and close friends that will come to visit during the night.
IndiaIn India, Halloween celebrations may occur in large cities such as Delhi and Mumbai. During the day, you'll see people in large cities dressing like ghosts in scary makeup. Bars, clubs, and hotels also have scary-themed parties to attract customers. However, Halloween has also faced criticism in India. Many Indians disapprove of celebrating departed souls and saints by highlighting horror and ghosts.
SlovakiaIn historic Slovakian tradition, one chair for each member of the family, both dead and alive, is positioned in a room that usually features a fireplace.
GreeceIn Greece, Halloween is celebrated primarily by expatriates and tourists in hotels and bars.
CanadaHalloween is very popular in Canada and celebrated much like it is in the USA. It's a fun and festive night filled with costume parties and trick-or-treating. Canada's claim to Halloween fame is the phrase "trick or treat," which dates back to 1927. This was when an Alberta, Canada newspaper article reported that "pranksters were visiting houses demanding either a trick or treat."
AustraliaHalloween is growing in popularity in Australia, where an orange balloon is hung outside the house to signal there's candy for trick-or-treaters. Unlike the US and other Northern Hemisphere countries, where Halloween occurs in the fall, Halloween in Australia occurs in a time when spring flowers re in bloom. Although Halloween is increasingly popular in Australia, especially among families with children, some people oppose it and consider it "an American thing."
Hong KongHalloween is a very popular celebration among Americans, Canadians and other expatriates living in Beijing, Shanghai and other major cities like Hong Kong, where festive parties can found throughout the city.
ChileHalloween celebrations are becoming increasingly popular in Chile, particularly in major cities like Santiago, where shops, supermarkets, and malls break out special decorations and children love to wear costumes and knock on the doors of their neighbors to ask for candy. In addition, clubs, pubs and bars organize a variety of colorful parties and events, including costume contests and masquerade parties. On November 1st many families mark “All Saint Days” (El Día de todos los Santos) by visiting the cemetery to place flowers on graves, and also balloons or teddy bears to decorate the tombs of children. It’s a time of reconnection and remembrance for those who have departed life on earth.
United StatesHalloween came to the US by way of Irish immigrants in the 19th century and quickly became an occasion to celebrate. Traditions include people dressing in costumes, children knocking door to door asking for candy by shouting "trick or treat", and carved pumpkin "jack-o'-lanterns" that can be seen everywhere on the night of October 31st.
ThailandFew Thais know about Halloween, let alone participate in it, but the country's huge expat population celebrates it with great fervor. In Bangkok, major nightlife spots like Silom Soi 4 and Sukhumvit Road come alive as hundreds of bars and nightclubs throw special Halloween bashes. The holiday has become a particular favorite of the local gay and lesbian community.
PhilippinesDuring the Filipino version of Halloween, known as Pangagaluluwa, children pass from house to house offering a song in exchange for food, candies, or money.
South KoreaDuring Halloween, the district of Itaewon in the heart of Seoul closes its streets to automobile traffic and various booths are set up to prepare for a wide variety of festivities, including live music, costume contests, and plenty of drinking. In addition, the majority of the restaurants, clubs and bars in this neighborhood put on different events where expats and Koreans gather for late nights of carousing and dancing (all in costume, of course).
MexicoAmong many Spanish-speaking countries, Halloween is celebrated as “El Día de Los Muertos” (the day of the dead), and incorporates a three-day celebration that begins on October 31st and culminates in November 2nd. It’s the time of the year when families remember their dead and the continuity of life. It’s also time when monarch butterflies are returning to Mexico from the north, and are thought to bear the spirits of the dearly departed who are coming home. Families set up altars with flowers, bread and candies next to pictures of family members.
SpainAmerican-style Halloween is a new phenomenon in Spain, but its popularity is growing among children and university students, and of course, it is enthusiastically celebrated by thousands of foreign English teachers from the US, UK, and other major English-speaking nations. Some towns are decorated and parties are held throughout different cities.
BrazilAlthough Halloween is a minor holiday in the land of Carnival, both expats and many locals are more than happy to join the party. Local flavor includes caipirinhas, batucada and colorful parades with drum music. Most restaurants, bars and clubs in Rio de Janeiro and especially in the Lapa district prepare special Halloween nights and spooky festivities.

What countries celebrate Halloween most?

Halloween is a popular holiday in a handful of countries, such as the United States, The Philippines, Scotland, and Ireland.

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