Halloween traditions around the world mean more than just candy.
Happy Halloween! Today is a day that children and adults alike look forward to, perhaps nearly as much as Christmas. For many Americans Halloween traditions include costumes, parties, carving pumpkins, spooky stories and haunted houses, and most of all trick or treating for candy! Halloween has changed a great deal over time. Many believe Halloween has origins in the ancient Celtic festival of Samhain, which marked the end of the harvest season. People left offerings of food or drink left for spirits in order to keep their livestock alive through the cold winter. They would also light bonfires and wear disguises or costumes to ward off ghosts. In Ireland and Scotland it was traditional to carve jack o’ lanterns out of turnips, but early settlers in North America used the pumpkin, which was easier to carve due to its larger size and softer flesh.
Halloween, or the practice of honoring the dead, is celebrated in many different ways around the world. In Hong Kong people celebrate Yue Lan, or the Festival of the Hungry Ghosts, by giving gifts to the spirits of the dead to bring them comfort or ward them off. In the Philippines they celebrate All Saints Day. In some provinces groups gather to practice souling, in which they sing door-to-door in exchange for food or money. In Romania Halloween is celebrated around the myth of Dracula, whose spirit is believed to still live there. Theme shows and parties with actors re-creating scenes are popular in the region of Transylvania. In Mexico the Day of the Dead celebration takes place for three days starting on October 31 and focuses on remembering loved ones who have passed away. Traditions include leaving sugar skulls, marigolds, favorite foods and drinks on alters or graves to honor the deceased.