Thursday, October 27th, 2011
Halloween is one of the world’s oldest holidays, dating back to pagan times, and is widely popular in England especially among children and young people. If you have fond memories of trick or treating, and enjoy carving pumpkins, a night of horror movies and dressing up in Halloween costumes, you won’t have to miss these activities even if you are living abroad. Halloween is celebrated in many places all over the world, most prominently in North America, Canada and Western Europe, but you’ll find many local celebrations on other continents as well. We’ve had a look at how Halloween is celebrated in some of the more popular expat locations.
North America & Canada
Although Halloween was not a holiday until the 19th century, it enjoys the highest level of popularity in North America
nowadays. Every year, over 60% of Americans decorate their houses and get involved in some Halloween activities. The amount of candy sold is almost as much as before Christmas. Trick or treating, carving pumpkins to make jack-o-lanterns, and costume parties for children as well as adults are popular activities. Bars and restaurants in urban areas hold Halloween parties and costume contests, city parades are held, and those living in the country often celebrate with fireworks and bonfires. Halloween on the whole is not very different from the UK, but there are more people participating, and there is even more excitement surrounding the celebrations.
Halloween is more widely known in Mexico as the Day of the Dead, “El Dia de los Muertos”, which is a three day celebration starting on October 31 and lasting until November 2, All Souls’ Day. The Day of the Dead can be traced back to indigenous rituals celebrating the deaths of ancestors that go back as many as 2500-3000 years. Mexican families remember their dead and the continuity of life these days. Many families construct an altar, decorating it with candy, flowers, and photographs, and candles are lit so that the dead souls can find their way home. Relatives gather at the gravesites of the deceased on All Souls’ Day for a picnic and to reminisce, adorning the graves with flowers and wreaths. Parades are held in many villages, where people dress up as skeletons. Celebrations, especially among the young are increasingly influenced by American traditions, and thus trick-or-treating and Halloween-themed parties are also becoming popular.
Halloween customs have become increasingly popular in Western Europe since the 1990s, including France
, the Netherlands
. American-style Halloween is celebrated with children and adults dressing up as ghosts, witches, mummies and vampires and attending costume parties, trick-or-treating and jack-o-lanterns. Alongside these American-influenced Halloween celebrations, many Western European countries celebrate with more traditional rituals, such as commemorating the dead by visiting graveyards, and leaving water and bread out on the table for the dead souls on Halloween night.
Despite American influences, Halloween is not celebrated very widely in Australia. Dressing up in Halloween-themed costumes and holding parties have become relatively popular in recent years, but actual trick-or-treating and other Halloween customs are not very widespread.