I know it is early but fancy dress, face-paint, bucket-loads of sweets, evil pumpkin faces and horror films are not the only way to celebrate Halloween. All around the world, this annual event is commemorated differently, with age-old traditions and religious beliefs intertwining with some well, different practices.
In Germany it is traditional for people to hide their knives (presumably not in the cutlery drawer) to prevent the returning spirits of Halloween from doing any harm or being harmed themselves.
Rather than hiding potential weapons, some Austrians choose to leave bread and water out for the returning spirits, in case they’re peckish after their journey back to earth. Some people also leave a light on or candle lit for the spirits so they can make their way around the house in comfort. Traditionalists believe that the night is highly charged with cosmic energy which makes the atmosphere susceptible to strange occurrences.
In what would seem like a morbid tradition, some people in the Czech Republic place a number of chairs in the living room for deceased family members who are said to return on the evening of Halloween. I guess expecting a passed on member to stand / hover/ loom around would be rude after all.
In Mexico, Halloween is known as the Day of the Dead (El Dia de los Muertos) and celebrations last for three days. Despite the name, the atmosphere is one of great fun, with fancy dress and an upbeat atmosphere that celebrates the return of the dead to earth. There’s music, food, art and film, with the streets coming to life with costume, to me this is something I would love to go partake in because it sounds like a lot of fun while getting to soak up so much culture.
If trick or treaters some how make you annoyed, then spare a thought for residents of Ireland. The children love to celebrate Halloween with the traditional game of ‘knock a dolly’, the age old prank of knocking on doors and running away. It’s pretty much the same thing as ‘nicky nicky nine doors’ and still just as big of a pain to those who go to answer the door.
Halloween in Hong Kong is known as “Yue Lan” which translates as “Festival of the Hungry Ghosts.” Spirits are believed to roam the earth for 24 hours, and people burn fruit or even money in the belief that this brings comfort to the lost spirits.
Famed for Gothic castles and eerie tales, the Romanian region of Transylvania makes the ultimate setting for Halloween. Celebrations revolve around Bram Stoker’s Dracula, with vampire costumes being the number one choice for party-goers. Orthodox beliefs during Halloween include the notion that animals can communicate with humans, and that dancing around cloves of garlic wards off the vampires and “strigoi” (the undead) who roam the streets.
So it seems like it doesn’t matter what part of the world you go to or are in everyone part takes in “All Hallows Eve“. So even though it is still a week away I would like to wish you a happy, safe and fun holiday and for the parents following this blog don’t forget about the candy tax when your little ghouls and goblins come home with bags full of sweets. I would also like to wish a blessed Samhain to any Wiccan / Pagan, although I’m sure there are some who will like to argue when the true day of Samhain is (October 31st or November 1st).