The internet keeps us connected to others around the world but so do Holiday traditions, and Halloween is not just celebrated in America. It is one of the world’s oldest holidays. Halloween dates back to some ancient festivals and religious rituals. Many countries still celebrate Halloween today.
October 31st is the date when we officially celebrate Halloween. In the United States, Canada, and Ireland, traditions include people dressing up in costumes, parties, trick-or-treating, games, and pranks.
Halloween actually originated in Ireland, and it is still celebrated in much the same way as we celebrate it in the US. In rural areas, people light bonfires as they did in the days of the Celts, and all over the country, children get dressed up in costumes and go “trick-or-treating” in their neighborhoods as we do here in the US.
After trick-or-treating, many people have parties with neighbors and friends. At the parties, many games are played, including “snap-apple,” In this game, an apple on a string is tied to a doorframe or tree, and players attempt to bite the hanging apple. In the US, our version of the game is bobbing for apples in a bowl of water instead of hanging from a doorframe. Parents in Ireland often arrange treasure hunts, with candy or pastries as the “treasure.” They are also known to play a card game where cards are laid face down on a table with candy or coins underneath them. When a child chooses a card, he receives whatever prize is found below it.
In Mexico and other Latin American countries, they celebrate Dia de Los Muertos (Day of the dead). They honor ancestors and other loved ones who have died. They burn incense and candles so the deceased can find their way home. Relatives usually tidy up gravesites, snipping away weeds, make repairs, and sometimes paint. They decorate the graves with flowers, wreaths, and paper streamers. Often families will picnic at the gravesite. Tequila and mariachi bands are usually a part of the celebrations.
In Latin American countries, the celebration lasts three days up to November 2nd, which is celebrated as All Souls Day. According to Latin American tradition, the dead return to their earthly homes on Halloween. Many families build an altar in their homes and decorate it with flowers, photos, candy, and favorite foods and drinks of the deceased family members they are honoring. Some even fill basins and leave out towels so the spirit can wash before joining in the feast.
In England, they observe Guy Fawkes day on November 5th with fireworks and bonfires. Effigies are burned while fireworks are set off. England stopped celebrating Halloween around the time the Reformation began to spread. Followers of the Reformation no longer believed in Saints, so they had no real reason to celebrate All Saints Eve or Halloween. A new tradition emerged- the English began celebrating Guy Fawkes Day, commemorating the execution of a very notorious English Traitor, Guy Fawkes.
So ghosts, spirits, and ghouls are a typical part of most celebrations around the world, as are parties, goodies, costumes, decorations, fireworks, and bonfires. Though separated by distance, we all stay connected through various traditions even though the specifics of how we celebrate evolve and change with time.