Halloween is just three days away and we cannot wait! Here in the States, Halloween means pumpkin carving, cider drinking, scary movies, and lots of candy eating. Although, our favorite parts about the holiday is its rich history and the many unique celebrations that occur around the world.
Halloween, as we now call it in the U.S., is thought to have originated from the Celtic festival of Samhain, celebrated in the first century. During Samhain, people would light bonfires and wear costumes to ward off ghosts. In the eighth century, Pope Gregory III named November 1st as the day to honor all saints and martyrs, a day which later became known as All Saints’ Day. The evening before All Saints’ Day became known as All Hallows Eve, and later Halloween. Over time, the holiday has spread and adapted to changing traditions and cultures. Read on to hear more about a few of our favorite variations on this unique, widespread holiday.
Dia De Los Muertos – Mexico, Spain, and Latin America
In Latin America, Mexico, and Spain, Dia De Los Muertos (also known as All Souls’ Day or the Day of the Dead) takes place over the course of three days. Beginning on October 31st and ending on November 2nd, the celebration honors the dead, who are believed to return back to their homes during this time. Over the course of these three days, family and friends gather to pray and honors those that have died. Traditions include the building of private alters, which may include photos, flowers, and possessions of the deceased.
Obon – Japan
Obon, also known as the Festival of Lanterns, is celebrated throughout Japan. Similar to the Day of the Dead, Obon celebrates the return of departed souls to the world of the living. Families of the dead prepare special offerings of food, which are placed on an alter. As nightfall comes, they light paper lanterns outside their homes, so the spirits of their loved ones can find their way back home. The festival ends with colorful paper lanterns being sent out to sea, meant to help guide the spirits back to the realm of the dead.
Halloween in Ireland
Having been brought over from Ireland, Halloween is celebrated in much the same way as it is in the U.S. Bonfires are lit, children dress up to go “trick-or-treating”, and neighborhood parties are frequently thrown. Although, there’s one thing makes this holiday particularly unique: Colcannon. Colcannon is a traditional Irish dish made with potatoes, kale, and onions, frequently prepared on the night of Halloween. In the past, coins wrapped in paper were hidden in the dish, along with one ring. Those that found the coins were free to keep them and the one that found the ring was said to be the next to get married.
These are just a few of our favorite variations of the holiday, but there are so many more! Have a favorite autumn celebration? Share your comments below!