Hide your kids, wife and send your mother-in-law, ’cause Halloween is upon us! Many of the holidays that can be connected to the celebration of Halloween are in some ways Christian, but let’s npt exagerate; the pagans had their Festival of the Dead”. In the tenth century, the French Saint Odilo proposed that this day be set aside to honor souls trapped in purgatory. No matter the exp[lanations you choose to believe and sustain, it all pales in comparison to what we hthink about that day now – it’s a consumer’s market, that’s all. It’s all about candy, treats, costumes, parties, and whatever. But there’s more to it, and here are 10 fascinating Halloween traditions to proove it!
10. Mexico: Grave-site Picnics
From the 31st of October to the 2nd of November, Mexico celebrates Days of the Dead, a joyous holiday to remember the dead. Altars of flowers and candy are constructed to remember the loved ones that passed away. The favorite foods of late family members are also put out, along with basins and towels so they can wash up before enjoying the feast. On the final day there’s even a grave-site picnic at the burial site of loved ones. A bit creepy tfor me.
9. Austria: Welcoming Home The Dead
In Austria, people leave out bread and water by a lighted lamp for their late family members, who are believed to visit on Halloween. The tradition welcomes the spirits in a similar way to the North American way of leaving out some cookies and milk for Santa. I doubt dead people bring gifts, though.
8. Czechoslovakia: Chairs By The Fire
November 2nd is referred to as Commemoration of All the Departed in Czechoslovakia. Grave-sites are lighted up with candles and flowers and charis are placed around a fire – one for each living family member and one for each of their spirits. It’s a simple commemoration.
7. Japan: Obon Festival
Japanese culture has long had their own celebration of the dead. The Festival of the Dead (including The Obon festival, known also as the Festival of Lanterns, and the Ghost festival) is a buddhist tradition observed in August. These celebrations are all about honoring the dead, as family members get together to decorate the gravestones of deceased loved ones and the pathways to gravestones are swept clean in the belief that the loved ones may return for a short period of time.
6. Germany: Hiding The Knives
Now, this is a strange one. From October 30th – November 8th, Germans have a tradition of putting all knives safely away, to avoid harm to or from returned spirits. The ritual is connected to All Saints Day, which is November 1st. It is a Catholic holiday, dedicated to honoring the memory of the saints, and late family members. But what has all that got to do with knives?
5. Cambodia: P’chum Ben
Sweet sticky rice and beans wrapped in banana leaves are brought to temples during P’chum Ben, a Festival of the Dead in Cambodia. Music and speeches given by monks are also part of the celebrations, meant to appease the roaming ghosts of their ancestors.
4. Italy: A Feast For The Dead
In southern Italy, after preparing a feast of their passed on loved ones favorite dishes, families leave their home to attend church and leave the doors unlocked in order for the spirits to enjoy their meal. I’m guiessing spirits can walk through walls, like in The Ghosbuster; thieves, however, might enjoy those open doors policies. The custom of preparing bean-shaped cakes is laso part of tradition.
3. Romania: Re-enactments Of The Witch Trials
Home of Vlad the Impaler, Romania arguably has the most material to work with when it comes to Halloween. Of course, the story of Dracula is variously interpreted and monetized, but few people really know the truth and fewer care about it. However, Halloween seems like a good enough time to have fun with Holywood ideas, like say through a party in Sighisoara, Transylvania (the citadel in which Vlad the Impaler was born). A Halloween custom also includes re-enacting the witch trials, which were held in Transylvania – never heard of those.
2. Singapore: Chinese Opera
Throughout the month, Chinese opera is performed, and the belief that the gates of Hell will open for spirits runs wild. Universal Studios Singapore puts on Halloween Horror Nights, where spooky horror themed opera is the name of the game. It’s scary enoguh not understanding what they say, I tell you.
1. Philippines: Carolling for the Souls in Purgatory
In the Philippines, groups of people going door-to-door to sing songs of purgatory is the creepy side of carolling. This is how they celebrate All Saints Day, and the tradition is known as Pangangaluluwa. Carolling for food and money though is also a local version of souling, although trick-or-treating is getting more popular – for the obvious reasons.