If you think your Halloween traditions are strange, think again. Here’s are some of the most weird and wonderful ones from around the globe.
Halloween originated from the festival of Samhain which was part of the ancient Celtic religion and celebrated on 31st October. The Celts believed that the dead returned to the Earth during Samhain so they would light bonfires, offer sacrifices and pay reverence to the dead. They would also dress up in costumes made of animal skins to drive away the spirits.
Modern day celebrations in the UK generally involve dressing up in scary costumes, trick or treating door to door and carving silly faces into pumpkins, but have you ever wondered how other cultures celebrate this time of year? Here are some weird and wonderful traditions from around the world.
Dia de los muertos
‘Dia de los muertos’ or ‘the day of the dead’, is a Mexican festival originating from Aztec traditions. It lasts for 3 days from 31st October to 2nd November and is a celebration of those who have passed away. The belief is that over this short period, the dead return to their loved ones, so families prepare by cooking their favourite food, decorating the house, and lighting candles to help guide them back.
Similar to mischief night, Devil’s Night has been a tradition in Detroit almost as long as the city has existed. It can be traced back to 19th Century Ireland where the original night of mischief was connected to fairies and goblins. When the Irish immigrants came to America, they brought this tradition with them in which youths engaged in a night of pranks and mild vandalism such as egging windows and doors, leaving rotten vegetables on doorsteps and throwing toilet paper on trees.
Kawasaki Halloween Parade
Even though this is a more recent tradition, it is one of the most famous Halloween parades in all of Japan. Starting only 20 years ago, it now draws in a crowd of around 130,000 people who come together to watch the parade. Only around 2,500 people are allowed to participate and it is on a first come, first serve basis. There is a prize for the best costume and, in 2016, it was a holiday to Italy and 100,000 yen.
In Scotland, it was a form of divination to peel an apple into a long strip and then throwing the peel behind you. Whatever shape it lands in is the first letter of your future true love’s name.
A day for love
In Ireland, Halloween was traditionally a day for fortune telling, where people would predict the future of their love lives. They played games that revealed the names of their future husbands and wives.
Bad luck to bite a thimble...
In colonial America, people would traditionally bake Halloween cakes and hide various things inside it. Whatever you bit into would predict your fortune (or misfortune). If you bit into a thimble, you would be unlucky in love!
The original Jack-o’-lantern
People have been making jack-o’-lanterns for centuries but did you know that pumpkin carving was originally beetroot, turnip and potato carving? The roots of this tradition started off in Ireland as in the Celtic culture, these carvings were made on All Hallow’s Eve to ward off evil spirits. When the Irish began to immigrate to America, they took this tradition with them and they quickly discovered that Pumpkins were bigger and easier to carve compared to turnips and potatoes.
Hide the knives if you’re in Germany
If you’re in Germany on Halloween, hide the knives! It is tradition to hide the knives in your home so that your loved ones, returning to your home as spirits, don’t injure themselves on any sharp blades. As if Halloween wasn’t scary enough!
Grab your cabbage
As well as being the traditional Halloween dish in Ireland, cabbages were used to predict information about future husbands. Local girls would go to the fields to look for cabbages. If the first cabbage they pulled out had a good amount of earth attached to it, then their husband would be wealthy.
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