Halloween is on its way and many countries in the world have planned traditional or innovative celebrations. If you’re looking for an escape on All Hallow’s Eve, check out the following ten Halloween traditions around the world for a spooktacular trip.
What makes Mexico the ideal place to spend your Halloween holidays? Surely the celebrations of the Dia de Los Muertos. From October 31st until November 2nd, colourful floats and animated skeleton figures called Calaveras parade all around Mexico. Sugar skulls and flowers can be spotted at every turn as an offering to the wandering spirits of the departed.
While its origins trace all the way back to the pre-Colombian era, it seems like the latino Day of the Dead has taken a special spot in Hollywood’s heart in the last few years. James Bond’s 2015 adventure, Spectre, shows glimpses of the Mexico City parade, while the concept for Disney Pixar’s upcoming animated movie Coco is fully based on this iconic Mexican holiday.
US Halloween Parades are the perfect occasion to experience the all-American keenness to impress. New York Village Halloween Parade, that goes all the way from Spring to Greenwich Street, is most likely the best example.
But it’s not all about celebrating: in Massachusetts visitors can roam around the infamous city of Salem. They get to experience the gloomy atmosphere of a ghost town first hand, as well as to commemorate the atrocities of the Salem Witch Trials.
Another piece of the puzzle of American horror history can be found in New Orleans, the cradle of voodoo culture in the United States and most recently of the LGBT+ Halloween entertainment.
Honoring the Taoist tradition of ancestors’ worship, many Asian countries celebrate the fifteenth day of the seventh moon month as the day in which the border between the world of the living and the dead fades. On this particular day, the good spirits of the ancestors come to visit and to receive the livings’ gratefulness for the protection and guidance they continuously provided during the past year.
During the Hungry Ghost Festival in Hong Kong, gratefulness is presented by burning food, money and other offerings that are thought useful to the ancestors in the afterlife. Free rice is given away and ghost plays are held in many neighbourhoods.
It is common knowledge that All Hallow’s Eve was originated in Gaelic Ireland. In fact, on Samhain, the Celts celebrated the end of the luminous part of the year and the beginning of darkness. It was thought that in this night of passage the border between the world of the living and the afterlife was so fragile that evil and good spirits could pass through. To push back the evil spirits and keep them at bay, the Celts used to wear animal heads or pelts, while they lighted up bonfires and performed ritual sacrifices for the good spirits.
Even though we went from animal to pumpkin heads, and from the bonfires of Tlachtga to the fireworks in Derry City, many are trying to revive the Celtic tradition. Therefore many people join every year the torch-lit procession that goes from Athboy to Tlachtga as a tribute to the ancient Fire Festival held on Samhain night.
Bearing witness to the influence of Confucianism and Taoism in Japan, Obon or Bon Festival is also celebrated on the fifteenth day of the seventh moon month in the provinces of Shikoku, Chugoku and Okinawa. The rest of the country celebrates it in the summer – either in July or in August. This tradition mostly consists in welcoming the ancestors back to the living world in a festive, joyful atmosphere made of colourful outfits, flowers and dances.
Japan has also been influenced by the western tradition of spooky costumes and parades: the Kawasaki City and Shibuya District Parades are the largest and most impressive, with over-the-top scary costumes and characters coming from either Japanese or Western horror tradition.
Historians and folklorists have found traces of an ancient Samhein tradition in Sardinia, those still represented in these days by the practice of sculpting pumpkins on Halloween night. Nevertheless the powerful influence of the Catholic Church has made it so that Halloween has not yet been considered a legitimate holiday. That, however, hasn’t stopped Italians from celebrating Halloween Night.
During the 50th anniversary of Lucca Comic and Games Convention, creatures from our childhood memories or worst nightmares will inhabit this beautiful medieval city. Even those who aren’t really into comics can appreciate the artistry and mastery of crafting objects and putting outfits together.
The bravest visitors are given the exclusive opportunity to visit the Botanic gardens nearby, infested by the spirit of Lucida Mansi, a noble woman who died from the plague in 1646. Her ethereal ghost has been spotted many times in various locations and even floating on the lake.
The United Arab Emirates
Even if there’s no Halloween or Harvest Tradition, in Dubai it’s always time to celebrate. Wild Wadi Waterpark offers spectacular games and countless entertainment solutions – first and foremost a new purpose-built attraction, called “The Forbidden Basement”. The party goes on until morning lights with an exclusive masquerade at Dance For You Studio in Mahiki Night Club.
Even though traditionally spirits are said to wander on St. Andrew’s Eve in Romania, the special place that Transylvania has in European horror literature brought the Halloween celebrations into the country. On October 29th, Bran Castle – the ancient siege of Vlad the Impaler, whose notorious cruelty inspired Bram Stoker’s Dracula – hosts an exclusive horror party. After a much needed wine sampling, visitors can watch horror movies or read horror books in the ghastly atmosphere of the castle, all for 33€.
And if you’re looking for more spooky venues where to fly on October 31st, don’t miss our post on the 10 scariest places where to spend Halloween night.
As part of the original tradition, the United Kingdom offers a vast range of possibilities to celebrate Halloween.
In London, Ghost Bus Tours and London Walks Tours serve as a great alternative to Halloween costume parties. For the Ghost Tours the iconic double-decker buses tourn pitch black and drive visitors all around London historic horror sites; while actors and sound technicians give it all to terrorize you. During London Walks, visitors follow Jack the Ripper’s traces and battle with the staff’s efforts to leave them really afraid of the dark.
On the night of October 28th, Amsterdams turns down its vibrant colors and transforms into a macabre toyshop for Paradiso Noord’s traditional costume party. 2017’s theme is Toyland: artists and actors turn into our favorite toys, looking for revenge after having been discarded and betrayed. Guests get to experience terror at its best through a carousel of music, movies, green screens and playgrounds. Guidelines and inspirations for crafting costumes are available on the web site for the event: the best single, couple and group costume will win 500€.