Ah, Halloween. A day our minds divert to imagining people in creepy clothed kids getting free candy. But, do you ever wonder how this tradition came about?

According to the World Book Encyclopedia, about two thousand years ago, the Celtics believed that during Samhain, the dead could interact with the living. Samhain is a Gaelic festival that marks the end of harvest and the start of winter. It is celebrated from the sunset of the 31st of October until the sunset on the 1st of November. Some of the Celtics would dress as ghouls to convince the dead that they were one of them, while others would offer sweets as a peace offering in hopes the dead would not disturb them. 

People would knock on doors to give a prayer for the dead in exchange for candy. These people would come bearing carved turnips claiming that it would keep the dead away. The turnips would later be pumpkins instead as pumpkins are easier to carve. Sounds familiar? It’s ironic how the current generation look forward to celebrating Halloween while two thousand years ago, Halloween was a day everyone dreaded. 

It is said that Christianity has played a big part in the celebration of Halloween, which was called All Hallows Eve during that time. It was called All Hallows Eve simply because it was the day before All Hallows Day. For three days, starting form the night of All Hallows Eve, there would be a feast honoring the dead that had not gone to heaven yet. This tradition was spread worldwide and was later called Halloween. 

Now, Halloween is celebrated in many different ways. Ireland is where it was believed to have started, and traditional celebrations are still carried out by the Irish. 

Very few of the British celebrate Halloween. Instead, most Brits celebrate Guy Fawkes Day which is a day to celebrate the death of Guy Fawkes, a traitor who planned to destroy the British Parliament.

The Belgians have a different perspective of this occasion all together. The Belgians light candles in memory of the dead in a more somber mood.

In China, Halloween is known as Teng Chieh. It is usually the time of the year to honor the dead. During Teng Chieh, food and drinks are placed in front of pictures of the deceased family and friends as a tribute. Lanterns and bonfires are also lit as a way to guide the spirits as they travel to earth during Teng Chieh.

The French did not start celebrating Halloween until the late 1990s. For the majority of French citizens, Halloween was considered an American holiday. This later changed after commercial aspects of the holiday were brought in. The French now celebrate Halloween merely with costume parties.

Halloween in Japan is knows as the Obon Festival, which honors the spirits of an ancestor. Obon Festival goes on for a few days in Japan. Every night during this festival, candles are lit for spirits to find their families. On the final day of Obon, there is a farewell fire that is lit to help guide the spirits back to their graves.

The Swedish celebrate Alla Helogons Day (All Saints Day). Although there are very minimal traditions performed during this day, it is an official holiday that includes time off from school and work. 

In Austria, they place bread and water next to a lamp on a table before going to bed on Halloween night. This is a welcoming gesture to the spirits coming back to Earth.

Halloween for Hong Kong is referred to as the Hungry Ghost Festival. According to their traditions, spirits roam the Earth freely for twenty-four hours during the festival. People would burn pictures of money as an offering to the spirits in hopes to appease the spirits. 

A common Halloween tradition in Germany is to put away your kitchen knives. No joke. It is believed that the spirits will not attack you if your kitchen knives are put away.

The people of Spain and Latin American celebrate the Day of the Dead, which is a three day long festival honoring the spirits of the dead. However, it is not a somber holiday, it leans towards an event of celebration similar to a carnival.

On Halloween night, citizens of Czech Republic have this tradition to place an empty chair by their fireplace for each and every one of their relatives, both living and dead. 

In Korea, Halloween is called Chuseok. During this time of the year, tributes and thanks are paid to one’s ancestors for their accomplishments. This means paying a visit to their ancestor’s grace and leaving food there. 

Whichever way you celebrate Halloween, make it a memorable one every year. 


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