5:25 am - Tuesday December 12, 2017

How the World Celebrates Halloween

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With the arrival of October and a certain tangible wintry crispness of fall in the air, families across the globe start to splurge on candies, pumpkins, costumes and all assortments of Halloween decorations. It’s a tradition equally as festive for both children and adults, who celebrate one day by visiting themed Carnivals, hosting Halloween parties and visiting pumpkin patches all throughout the month. Everyone dresses up as ghosts, monsters or characters that reflect the person they want to be. Over the years, Halloween has actually fallen away from its religious antecedence and rolled up into an amalgamation of folklore that also reflects man’s obsession with everything obscure and frightening.

Halloween is celebrated every year on the 31st of October. Even though it’s become a predominantly American holiday, it started out 2000 years ago with the Irish and their Celtic Festival of Samhain which commemorated the end of summer and beginning of the treacherous winters. Vulnerable to natural elements, these people looked upon the snow and cold draughts with certain trepidation and associated a sense of immortality with the season. They believed in the archaic sense that the dead returned in this period of tragic transition from dawn to dusk and that their spirits roamed free. Thus the civilization started a series of rituals like putting up bonfires and offering sacrifices to ward off the dead. Halloween has evolved a lot since then.

Here are some of the unique celebration that countries around the world take part in.

Mexico – Day of the Dead (or El Día de los Muertos)

The Day of the Dead is perhaps Mexico’s most famous traditions. The Mexicans celebrate it on the 1st and 2nd November where they visit their deceased relatives’ graves, set up alters with flowers and food for them and have lunch at the cemetery. It’s an occasion for families to hang out and spend time together while remembering those who passed.

Hong Kong – The Hungry Ghost Festival

The people of Hong Kong take part in a month-long series of festivities where they offer food to the hungry spirits they believe to restlessly roam the Earth at this time of year. The festival is a way to offer any food or money that these spirits may need for the afterlife.

Bolivia – Festival of the Skull

In Bolivia it is considered part of tradition to hold on the skull of dead relatives so they can protect their family from evil. On the festival day people celebrate by decorating these skulls with flowers and offering gifts to their spirits.

Japan – Kawasaki Halloween Parade

The Kawasaki Parade is probably the most of its kind all around the world. Nearly 4000 costumed individuals from various countries take part in the procession. Participants need to actually apply two months prior to the festival in order to be allowed in.

Cambodia – Pchum Ben

Pchum Ben is religious holiday that Buddhists celebrate to remember the dead. People offer food like sweet rice and beans wrapped in banana leaves and visit temples to put flowers in order to pay their respects. The holiday also includes bull races and gatherings of monks chanting through the night to open the doors of Hell.

The Philippines – Pangangaluluwa

In the Philippines, children dress up in costumes and go from door to door in their neighborhoods, singing and praying for lost souls to guide them to Heaven. This ritual has since been replaced by trick-or-treating much like that in America.

 

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