Trick-or-treating and carving pumpkins are two things we all associate with Halloween. But did you know that in Austria they leave out bread and water on Halloween? And…
The Irish partake in trick-or-treating and bonfire burning on Halloween just like many other western cultures. But one unique thing they also do is bake a Barmbrack – a type of fruit cake with special cloth-wrapped ‘treats’ inside, such as rings, coins and thimbles, which apparently have the power to predict your fortune!
The Chinese refer to Halloween as Teng Chieh, the Festival (or Feast) of Hungry Ghosts, and this holiday generally takes place in August. Offerings of food and water are placed in front of photographs of those who have recently died and are making their way to the afterlife. Lanterns and bonfires can also be lit to help light the way for the deceased.
In Austria, Halloween is a day to welcome back the spirits of the dead to the land of the living. Like the Chinese, Austrians leave out lights and lamps to help guide the dead on Halloween, as well as bread and water for the spirits to eat.
In the Czech Republic, Halloween is called Dusicky (or ‘All Souls’ Day’) and is actually celebrated a couple of days after October 31st, on November 2nd. Like many other countries around the world, Dusicky is a day to celebrate the lives of loved ones who have passed away and visiting cemetery graves with candles and flowers is customary.
Halloween is known as the Day of the Dead in Mexico, and this three-day long holiday each year is filled with parades featuring skeletons and coffins, and homages to passed loved ones via the decorating of grave sites. Many Mexicans will also create shrines in their homes to remember loved ones, and will usually decorate the shrines with flowers, photographs and foods the deceased once enjoyed.
It might sound weird, but the Germans actually go about hiding knives on Halloween. Why?
Because they believe that spirits return on Halloween night and they don’t want the spirits to cut themselves on sharp knives. In addition, pumpkins and jack-o-lanterns are commonly on display on Halloween in Germany these days, and dressing up in costumes is popular too.
Halloween is not overly celebrated in France … except in the town of Limoges! Here, Halloween is embraced in full, with a creepy parade of ghosts, ghouls, goblins, vampires and witches taking place on the streets. And what makes it particularly spectacular is that most participants in the parade will carry a candlelit pumpkin. You’ll find Limoges in central France, not too far from Clermont-Ferrand.
Trick-or-treating and lighting jack-o-lanterns is common Halloween practice in the US, but another cool tradition has also become highly popular on All Hallows’ Eve – that of street parties and festivals. One of the most well known is probably the West Hollywood Halloween Carnaval. It entails music acts, food vendors and the crowning of the Halloween Queen, who is usually a notable celebrity.
While trick-or-treating might be an easy way to get lollies and treats, children in Scotland often have to traditionally sing or tell stories to get their Halloween gifts, which can include money as well as candy. Other popular Halloween games in Scotland include ‘dookin’ or ‘donking’ for apples in a barrel of water and biting a scone hanging from a tree while your hands are tied.
Photo credits: mbabin, Fordmadoxfraud, polytikus, bernd_thaller, theodevil, DiAnn, gnislew, fmg, wildcat_dunny, Caleb Zahnd