How Halloween Is — And Isn’t — Celebrated Around the World

Children Trick or Treating

In America, Halloween is all about spooky movies, fun costumes, and loads of candy. While the holiday does have underlying morbid themes involving the spirit world, people mostly focus on the entertaining and playful aspects of modern Halloween. Interestingly, different cultures around the world have holidays that have similar themes of death and acknowledging spirits. Some places have even embraced some of our Halloween traditions! Check out ten holidays and celebrations similar to or influenced by Halloween.

1. Samhain in Ireland

Neopagan Celebrating Samhain
Image Credit: CC BY-SA 4.0/Wiki Commons.

In Ireland, they acknowledge Samhain or “All Hallowtide” by eating Barmbrack, a type of dense cake. Bakers adhere to the traditions of the pagan Irish festival by adding a ring, rag, and coin into the cake batter, which also features raisins, candied fruit, and currants. The token you get in your piece of cake determines what the future holds for you.

2. Teng Chieh in China

Hungry Ghost Festiva
Image Credit: Ivan Damanik – CC BY-SA 4.0/Wiki Commons.

Teng Chieh, also known as the Hungry Ghost Festival, is a Chinese celebration that has many similarities to Halloween. Most of China uses this time to appease any ghosts that may be around. They offer up food, water, photos, and incense to feed the hungry ghosts in the hopes that they’ll bless their families.

3. Día de Los Muertos in Mexico

Day of the Dead
Image Credit: Jared Zimmerman – CC BY-Sa 3.0/Wiki Commons.

Día de Los Muertos is one of the most well-known holidays that people associate with Halloween. However, Día de Los Muertos is more meaningful than the fun Halloween Americans are familiar with, but the energy is the same. People wear colorful costumes, dance, sing, and honor their ancestors.

4. La Festa di Ognissanti in Italy

La Festa di Ognissanti
Image Credit Diego Delso – CC BY-SA 4.0/Wiki Commons.

This Italian celebration begins on November 1st, so it happens right after American Halloween. It is a celebration of the Catholic saints and deceased loved ones that lasts a few days. Italian families exchange gifts, commemorate loved ones who have passed, attend mass, and eat plenty of yummy food, particularly beans!

5. Fet Gede in Haiti

Fèt Gede Celebrations
Image Credit: Franck Fontain.

The Festival of the Dead in Haiti, known as Fet Gede, is similar to Día de Los Muertos! The festival takes place on November 1st and 2nd. Haitians celebrate by paying their respects to Baron Samedi, the father of spirits, dancing in the streets, and walking through graveyards. It’s a vibrant and meaningful celebration with a lot of energy.

6. La Toussaint in France

Cimetiere of Montmartre Paris
Image Credit: CC BY-SA 3.0/Wiki Commons.

The French also celebrate something like Halloween! La Toussaint is on November 1st and outshines Halloween, so this is like the French version of the grim holiday. People attend church services that honor the dead and may go to cemeteries to lay flowers on the graves of loved ones. It’s much more somber and calm than American Halloween.

7. Hallowmas Eve in Hong Kong

Halloween pumpkin of Jack Skellington Hong Kong
Image Credit: Shutterstock.

While China has its own traditions that honor the dead, people in Hong Kong may also celebrate Hallowmas Eve, especially at Hong Kong Disneyland. At the bustling theme park, people watch Halloween-themed performances and take part in more American traditions. There are haunted houses, crazy costumes, candy, and spooky shows.

8. Halloween in Japan

Kawasaki Halloween Parade
Image Credit: Julianna Hide/Shutterstock.

Disney is also responsible for making Halloween somewhat popular in Japan. Halloween has been celebrated by some in Japan since 2000 when Tokyo Disneyland highlighted the celebration. However, Japanese people take Halloween costumes to the next level, crafting high-quality and impressive looks for flash mobs, street parties, and other fun festivities.

9. Sint-Maarten in The Netherlands

The Netherlands
Image Credit: Evaldas Jankauskas/Shutterstock.

While some Dutch people celebrate Halloween in a casual way, with costumes and candy, most people embrace the November holiday Sint-Maarten instead. This feast day is geared toward kids, encouraging them to wander the streets with lanterns and sing to people. Many people will give these children candy, so it’s just like trick-or-treating.

10. Dia das Bruxas in Portugal

Dia das
Image Credit: Anthony – CC BY-SA 3.0/Wiki Commons.

Portugal’s version of Halloween is called the Day of the Witches, or Dia das Bruxas. It’s pretty similar to American Halloween, as kids dress up and go door to door asking for treats, but they ask for bread and nuts instead of chocolate and lollipops. Families and individuals will also visit the graves of people they knew, leaving flowers, candles, and meaningful trinkets to honor those who have passed.

Source: Trafalgar.

Author: Veronica Booth

Title: Freelance Writer

Expertise: Food, Entertainment, Movies, TV, Fashion, Lifestyle, Celebrity

Bio:

Veronica is a food, fashion, and entertainment writer from Boston, MA, with a passion for all things lifestyle and culture. She graduated from Boston University in 2019 with a bachelor's in English literature. From Anna Wintour to Angelina Jolie to Alton Brown, she has her finger on the pulse of all things Hollywood and celebrity.

If she's not in the kitchen crafting new recipes, then she's binging the latest HBO series and catching up on the hottest trends in Vogue.

She has written for and been syndicated by publications like The Weather Channel, The Daily Meal, The Borgen Project, The Good Men Project, The Express, MSN, Wealth of Geeks, and Not Deer Magazine. Her writing experience ranges from global news articles to celebrity gossip pieces to movie reviews to homemade recipes and more.