Dating back to pagan times, Halloween is one of the world’s oldest holidays. It has come a long way since then, with Halloween celebrations around the world enjoyed by adults and children alike.
Much of Halloween’s origins come from the Emerald Isle so traditions are well ingrained for the Irish. For their own take on a Halloween sweet treat, enter barmbrack. This spiced fruit bread is eaten all year round however symbolic additions are made at Halloween. A pea, matchstick, thimble, ring, piece of cloth or coin are all common symbols. Whichever symbol you may come across, this is a sign for the year ahead.
Halloween is a fairly new Western celebration that Japan has adopted and created to suit their own style. In a country where cosplay (costume play) is so popular, Halloween is mainly celebrated amongst those who love to dress up. It all started when Tokyo Disneyland hosted their first Halloween event in 2000, and it’s been a hit ever since! You’ll find street parties, flash mobs or even zombie runs a Japanese Halloween tradition.
The main Portuguese tradition is called ‘pão-por-deus’, translating to ‘bread for God’. In a similar theme to trick-or-treating, children go door knocking around their local neighbourhood (without costumes). When their neighbours greet them, they say ‘pão-por-deus’ and receive breads, little trinkets or candy.
Día de los Muertos is probably the biggest and most famous Halloween celebration on this earth. The Day of the Dead is a multi-day celebration that begins on October 31 with people gathering from far and wide. Mexicans believe that spirits come to visit the land of the living so it’s all about honouring and celebrating their decreased friends and family’s lives. Traditions include parades full of people dressed as skeletons, tequila, dancing and family feasts.
United States of America
Behind Mexico, Americans revel in Halloween celebrations come October 31. There are the annual pumpkin patch visits to pick the best ones for carving, trick-or-treating in droves, and costumed parties all over the country. In particular, New Orleans is a standout city to be in at this time of year. Its history encompasses voodoo traditions which pairs well with Halloween, with spectacular street parties and voodoo-themed art displays.