Did you know America isn’t the only country engaging in Halloween traditions annually? It’s true. While we carve pumpkins, trick or treat, and attend costume parties, countries worldwide celebrate in their own ways. Here are ten of them.
1. Austria: Pumpkin Festival
A region called Retzer Land in Austria celebrates the pumpkin festival on 11th November each year. Just like any usual Halloween event, people gather around in spooky outfits with lanterns in their hands. But you know what’s special? The residents believe that placing water, bread, and a lamp outdoors can invite dead spirits back to the Earth for a short visit.
2. Bolivia: The Day of Skull
Citizens of La Paz, Bolivia, organize a gathering at the General Cemetery almost seven days after the All Saints’ Day. What’s weird is that every attendee brings a skull, considering it treasurable. Mariachi bands sing and dance during the procession while people are busy offering food, prayers, and cigarettes to the skulls. According to them, doing so can bring protection and good luck in their life.
3. Czech: Empty Chairs Around the Fireplace
As Halloween approaches, the families residing in the Czech Republic follow a unique tradition on 2nd November every year. So basically, they place chairs around the fireplace, which are kept empty for the entire day. While the action appears simple, the mindset behind it makes this tradition special. Each chair placed around the fireplace symbolizes their loved ones who are no longer alive.
4. Guatemala: Festival of the Giant Kite
On 1st November, the Giant Kite festival is held in the towns of Sumpango and Santiago. It’s obvious from the name that people fly colorful kites in the sky over cemeteries. But you know what’s interesting? They follow this tradition to honor their dead loved ones. Other than this, there’s a common belief that says the sound from the kite’s paper can scare evil spirits away from the region.
5. Scotland: Apple Peels That Predict Partners
In Scotland, single people peel an apple in a single long spiral and toss it over their shoulders. After the throw, the letter that the peel closely resembles can predict the person’s future spouse’s initials. Isn’t that a fun tradition? Of course, there’s no truth to it, but people still follow it around Halloween for entertainment!
6. Spain: Pumpkins Filled With Queimada
Galicia, Spain’s autonomous community, celebrates Halloween with a special tradition that’s performed to chase away demons and ghosts. They first scoop out the fruit from the pumpkins and fill it with a strong punch drink made with orange peel, cinnamon, coffee beans, and alcohol.
However, it’s not for savoring; instead, they set the drink on fire. During the ritual, a special spell is recited for the safety and well-being of citizens.
7. Britain: Baking of Soul Cakes
People in Britain used to bake soul cakes in remembrance of their dead relatives. The key ingredients include cinnamon, nutmeg, and saffron – not so typical for cooking a sweet dish. And that’s what makes this tradition unique. Also, the cakes had resins arranged on their top in a cross shape. Kids who knocked on house doors praying for the dead would get these cakes.
8. Ireland: Future Predicting Barmbrack
During the 18th century, people baked barmbrack, a delicious bread, hiding different things in it. Upon slicing the bread, the finding would predict the future for them. For instance, a ring indicates an early marriage. Finding a pea brought bad news that the person who cut the bread wouldn’t ever get married. Similarly, a stick meant trouble in paradise for married couples. Also, the cloth indicated poverty, and the coin anticipated receiving lots of money.
9. Italy: All Souls Day
In Italy, people visit the graves of their loved ones and honor them with chrysanthemums during Halloween. They also savor lots of delicious food, believing that the dead are also a part of these celebrations.
What’s unique is that they offer beans of the dead cookies (Fave dei morti) as well to the deceased’s souls. Earlier, the cookies were also a part of funerals, with beans symbolizing departed souls.
10. Haiti: Fet Gede (Festival of the Dead)
This tradition particularly links with Vodouisants (people involved in Voodoo) as they offer respect to Baron Samedi. Samedi is referred to as the father of dead spirits. To honor him, they usually dance in the streets and visit graveyards to offer food to the departed souls. This tradition is particularly followed in Haiti around Halloween time – particularly on the 1st and 2nd of November.
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