Sunday, October 11, 2015
Published in H-history
The American Halloween tradition of “trick-or-treating” probably dates back to the early All Souls’ Day parades in England. During the festivities, poor citizens would beg for food and families would give them pastries called “soul cakes” in return for their promise to pray for the family’s dead relatives. The distribution of soul cakes was encouraged by the church as a way to replace the ancient practice of leaving food and wine for roaming spirits. The practice, which was referred to as “going a-souling” was eventually taken up by children who would visit the houses in their neighborhood and be given ale, food, and money.
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Día de los Muertos or “Day of the dead” is a traditional Mexican holiday that honors the dead and is celebrated annually on November 1st and 2nd. Through those days, participants build private altars called ofrendas to honor the departed with sugar skulls and their favorite processions.
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Halloween in Romania has a special tradition of sucking blood. Ok, maybe not for real. But the infamous folklore of Dracula does originate in Transylvania, Romania, which is perfect for adding just a little extra spook when trick-or-treating.
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In German, “Süßes oder Saures” translates into “Trick or Treating”. While Halloween isn’t a historic tradition there, many Germans are well aware of the American customs and have been known to throw a pretty wild Halloween party.
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The Hungry Ghost Festival or the “Yu Lan Jie” is a traditional Buddhist and Taoist festival held throughout Asian countries in which ghosts of the deceased are said to visit the living. Like Japan’s Bon Odori, this holiday begins on the fifteenth day of the seventh month in the lunar calendar. Festivities include ritualistic food offerings, burning incense, and sharing fine goods with the ghosts of the dead.
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Samhain is a Gaelic festival marking the end of the harvest months and the start of Winter. It’s traditionally celebrated from sunset on October 31st to sunset November 1st–an ideal time for Neopagans to practice their magic and witchcraft.
Luke Macgregor / Reuters
While Halloween traditions of costumes and candies (or excessive alcohol depending on your age) are now seen across most Western counties, England takes an extra night to don masks too. “Guy Fawkes Night” finds its origins on November 5th, 1605, when Guy Fawkes’ “Gunpowder Plot” to blow up the Houses of Parliament was ultimately foiled. Today, the people celebrate with processions, bon fires, and of course, Guy Fawkes masks!
Daniel Munoz / Reuters
The average temperature of Australia in October is 86°F. So needless to say, the beach is always a pretty good option for an Australian Halloween!
Lai Seng Sin / AP
In Japan, the Obon festival finds revelers dawning the traditional Yukata and Happi dress to celebrate gratefulness of their deceased ancestors. As a Summer festival, the holiday period typically lasts from the 15th day of the 7th lunar month.
In Austria, Seleenwoche is known as All Souls Week. Between October 30th and November 8th, Austrians offer to the dead gifts of bread, candles, and water before going to sleep at night. Sleep tight!
Dušičky is a sober holiday that falls on November 2nd in which families of those deceased pay their respects to their loved ones. Rather than emphasizing the festivities of traditionally associated with Halloween, Dušičky allows people an opportunity to share their reverence for the departed with candles, flowers, and wreathes.
Lee Jin-man / AP
This three-day Korean harvest festival is traditionally held around the autumn equinox. During that time, Koreans return to their ancestral hometowns to pay homage to the spirits of their linage.
Niranjan Shrestha / AP
Gai Jatra, or “Cow Festival” is a celebratory festival in memory of family members who died during the preceding year. During a vibrant procession through the steets, it’s believed that a participating cow will guide their spirits in their journey to heaven.
Pring Samrang / Reuters
Pchum Ben is a 15-day Cambodian religious festival set to pay homage to ancestors as far back as 7 generations. It’s tradition that Monks chant continuously without sleeping as a prelude to the gates of Hell opening. When Hell’s gates are opened, it’s said that the spirits of dead roam free, which is why families also offer food and gifts to please them–while others participate in annual buffalo-racing ceremonies!
Jonathan Ernst / Reuters
Halloween in America occurs every year on the same date, October 31st. As a child, traditions range from dressing up in costume, trick-or-treating for candy, scary movies, haunted houses, and carving pumpkins into Jack-o’-lanterns. As an adult, traditions range from tending to every one of your child’s sugar-induced needs, toilet paper related acts of vandalism, and public intoxication.