Dressing up and asking for treats may be a long-standing American Halloween tradition, but the U.S. isn’t the only place the holiday is celebrated with flair. Halloween traditions around the world range from bonfires and fairy sightings to partying at Count Dracula’s castle. Check out our four favorite Halloween traditions below.
Ireland’s festival of Samhain is a big deal, and it’s also the starting point of all other Halloween traditions around the world. With a history that stretches back to ancient Pagan and Celtic rituals, Samhain refers to the end of the light half of the year.
In ancient times, the stretch between dusk on Oct. 31 and dawn on Nov. 1 was believed to be a time where the borders between worlds were open. That meant that not only the dead could pay a visit to the living, but hobgoblins and fairies could roam about.
Halloween in Ireland today is celebrated with games, bonfires, and traditional foods. The Irish fruitcake barbrack contains rings, buttons, coins, and other doodads used for fortune-telling. Getting a ring in your cake can mean marriage is on the horizon, while receiving a coin may foretell of great wealth for the coming year.
Dia de los Muertos, Mexico
Mexico and part of Latin America come alive honoring the dead every Dia de los Muertos. Day of the Dead officially kicks off at midnight Nov. 1, when the gates of heaven are believed to open and release the souls of the dearly departed. The souls of children visit earth for the first 24 hours, with the souls of adults getting their 24 hours on Nov. 2.
Day of the Dead rituals include erecting altars around loved ones’ grave sites packed with food and drink for the visiting souls. Families typically bring out candy and toys for the souls of the children, while the adult souls are offered cigarettes and shots of mezcal.
Awuru Odo Festival, Nigeria
Day of the Dead celebrations last two days in Mexico and Latin America, but a similar celebration in Nigeria can last up to six months. Known as the Awuru Odo Festival, this holiday occurs once every two years. It begins when the souls of family members and friends return to the living sometime between September and November.
The spirits are greeted with great feasts, music, and an ongoing celebration. Their departure in April is marked by an extravagant theatrical performance that depicts the souls’ return to earth and the anguish over their departure.
Day of Dracula, Romania
Halloween comes with a bite in Romania, where people from across the globe show up to celebrate at the legendary home of the Vlad III, best known as Vlad the Impaler. This Prince of Wallachia was a real-life man on which Bram Stoker’s Count Dracula was based, and Transylvania’s Bran Castle becomes a party house for thrill seekers every Oct. 31.
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