Halloween is essentially a Western holiday and has a long history, originally celebrated by the Celts to commemorate the dead. Halloween as we know it in the United States is a holiday for fun and parties, getting dressed up in costumes, trick-or-treating and decorating pumpkins. Here are some Halloween traditions from around the world.
In Spain, Halloween is a three-day celebration, starting from 31st October every year. The first day is referred to as Halloween or Dia de las Brujas (Day of the Witches). This is also called Samhain or Noite dos Calacús (Night of the Pumpkins) in the north-west region of Galicia. This is followed by the celebration of ‘All Saints Day’ (Dia de Todos los Santos) on the 1st of November. Finally, on 2nd November, the natives observe the customs and rituals of All Souls’ Day (Día de Los Muertos). The three day celebration is together referred to as “El Dia de los Muertos” and is widely observed by the natives of Spain, Latin America and also by the Latinos residing in different zones of United States and Canada.
So Halloween is not a typical French holiday but stores try to take advantage of it, and it’s not unusual to find a “carve your Halloween pumpkin (“une citrouille” or “un potiron”) display at your local grocery store. Well, pumpkins don’t sell like hotcakes in France, so I guess everything is good to try to sell them… But I don’t know that French people are massively carving pumpkins or doing anything special for Halloween…
Italy imported this festival from the USA through films, TV and pop culture. It all started as a way to entertain children with the famous trick-or-treat routine. Certainly, Carnevale is still superior, but tendencies are looking undoubtedly more and more in favor to Halloween. This is throwing some controversy into the laps of religious authorities in Italy. Halloween is starting to develop a superior influence over Italy’s All Saints and All Souls Day, on November 1st and 2nd respectively, and many worry about the fact that it may turn what is supposed to be a time to remember our dead with love and cherish into yet another occasion to party.
Unlike Christmas where the non-religious traditions have crossed the Pacific, Halloween is really a non-event for the Chinese. You might see pumpkins or squash decorating shop-fronts and grocery stores selling Western products might stock some candy but you won’t find hoards of Chinese children knocking on doors for treats.