Americans are not the only ones who take delight in a little ghostly fun. Here’s how countries around the world celebrate their own unique versions of Halloween:
Latin America: El Día de los Muertos, or The Days of the Dead, is a time when people honor the dead by adorning family graves and homes with toys, flowers, candy and statues (skeletal figures are the most traditional decorations). It is a time of great feasting and celebration.
Japan: The Bon Festival takes place during the middle of summer over a 3-day period, and is celebrated to remember and honor the spirits of ancestors. Special foods are prepared for the dead and people travel back to their homes for a time of family togetherness and reflection.
Germany: In some areas of Germany, Walpurgisnacht is recognized as the eve of St. Walpurgis Day, a day when witches, spirits and demons freely roam the earth. It is a day in honor of Walpurga, a medieval nun who is said to be the protector against all magic. It is a day for drinking, dancing and celebrating and that encourages living life to its fullest.
Ireland: Halloween, known as “the Irish Christmas,” is a traditional family holiday in which children may go door-to-door and recite several verses of a rhyme in hopes of persuading the adults to give them treats, which are usually nuts, apples or money.
“Rhyming” often begins days or weeks before the actual day of Halloween. The Irish once believed that if a young girl sliced an apple and then ate it by candlelight in front of a mirror on the night of Samhain, the image of her future husband would appear over her shoulder.
Gina Sicilia can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org