What do you mean that wasn’t scary at all?! That was me doing my best ghost impression. OK, so if that wasn’t scary, just check out me and my friends’ fancy dress, and my amazing Dracula costume!
You don’t think that’s scary either? I bet you’re the sort of person that loves snakes and spiders too. Well, you’d love some of the ways in which Halloween is celebrated around the world. It’s not just pumpkins and dressing up, you know.
Join me on a spooky whistle-stop tour of how different cultures mark All Hallows Eve – but you can call it Halloween!
In places like Mexico and Spain, Halloween is marked in dramatic style with the Dia de los Muertos – Day of the Dead. I’ve tried telling Mr. Worry that it’s a time for celebration, and that the name is nothing to be scared of, but he doesn’t believe me. But it’s true! On 1st and 2nd November, for thousands of years, families have celebrated the memory of those who have passed away by putting up temporary altars in their homes.
Halloween-type festivals take place in China, but not at the same time as we’re used to. Teng Chieh happens at the end of the Chinese New Year, and features a Lantern Festival, with lanterns in the shape of various animals, which intend to ward off evil.
Plus, there’s the Festival of Hungry Ghosts, where gifts are offered to appease angry spirits and negative feelings. When I mentioned this to Mr. Greedy, he said it wasn’t just the ghosts that were hungry. But then again, Mr. Greedy’s always hungry!
Between 30th October and 8th November, Austrians celebrate Seleenwoche (All Souls’ Week) by remembering loved ones. Then they leave bread, water and a lamp on a table before going to bed; it’s all about ‘welcoming the dead souls’.
On the evening of 1st November, All Saints’ Day – when ancestors’ souls are believed to gather – families get together and walk to the graveyards with lanterns (which are later left behind at the graveyard) with the aim of guiding the dead through the dark. Not sure I’d like the sound of going to the cemetery in the dark, but Mr. Brave said there’s nothing to be scared of!
Now here’s an odd one… Germany has a tradition – still observed by some – where people hide all their knives on Halloween night to avoid any conflict with evil spirits. Actually, Halloween is increasingly popular in Germany, with parties and costumes aplenty, especially in the major cities like Berlin. What would you dress up as? You’ve seen my Dracula costume, but I’m sure you can do better! Tweet me your fancy dress pictures!
Here’s another one that’s a little, well, different. Czechs will traditionally put an empty chair by the fireplace on the evening of Halloween for every member of their relatives, whether they’re living or dead. Speaking of chairs, I once went to sit down, and Little Miss Naughty pulled the chair away right at the last minute. I’ve still got the bruise to prove it…!
In Sweden at this time of year, the Alla Helgons Dag festival takes place. It lasts a week and coincides with a national holiday. Now that’s got to be a reason for everyone to celebrate! I love holidays and days off – then again, if you’re Mr. Lazy, every day’s a day off. Well, he’s just soooo lazy!
They don’t celebrate Halloween in Japan, but there’s something similar in summer. For The Obon Festival, people light fires to direct a spirit to its family. Plus, you’ll see red lanterns lit everywhere – it’s so beautiful that even Mr Grumpy would love it.
From hidden knives to empty chairs, every culture has its own particular way of marking Halloween. Whether or not you’re marking the event with a pumpkin, a costume and/or a spot of trick or treating, have fun doing so. But maybe you like the idea of sampling an altogether different type of Halloween.
Perhaps you’ll go somewhere and like it so much, that you’ll decide to stay. Well, if you do, remember my friends at World First. They’ll save you money with your currency transfers, and make it not at all scary.
I hope you have a great Halloween, and don’t forget to follow me on Twitter!
And why not take a look at my very own website – yes! I’ve finally made it!