10 Halloween Traditions You’ve Never Heard Of
Take a peek at how the rest of the world marks the end of harvest season
The Hungry Ghost Festival — Hong Kong
The Hungry Ghost Festival in Hong Kong actually takes place between mid-August to early September each year. It is on the 15th night of the seventh Chinese month when the gates of hell are opened to allow all ghosts to receive food and drinks. During the festival people try to appease ghosts who drift on the Earth. People will burn papier-mâché items like clothes, gold and other valuables to feed their ancestors so they can use it in the afterlife. They will also leave food out for them to eat, too. The Yu Lan Ghost Festival will last the entire month and has been held for more than 100 years.
Pangangaluluwa — The Philippines
Pangangaluluwa is a tradition in the Philippines that happens each Oct. 31. Children go trick or treating from house to house for candy but in the past it involved children singing in exchange for gifts. Years ago children used to get woken up by elders at midnight and dressed in white blankets that represented the souls of the dead. Children sang hymns and offered prayers for the deceased.
Following Oct. 31, Filipinos visit cemeteries to spend time with ancestors.
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Pitru Paksha — India
Hindus celebrate Pitru Paksha during a 16-lunar day period typically around the middle of September to early October where they honor their ancestors with food offerings. There is also the death rite ceremony of Tarpan, also known as Shraddha, where a man takes a purifying bath and wears a special garment called a dhoti. The ceremony is considered compulsory to ensure that an ancestor’s soul reaches heaven. If the ancestors are pleased with the ceremony they will give health, wealth, knowledge, longevity as well as heaven and salvation upon the person who performs the ceremony.
Dzień Zaduszny — Poland
Dzień Zaduszny is known as All Souls’ Day in Poland and is celebrated a day after All Saint’s Day. All Saint’s Day occurs on Nov. 1 where Polish citizens visit the graves of deceased relatives and most bring Chrysanthemums to the cemetery. They also bring many candles to light up the graves, too.
The All Souls’ Day tradition believed that the spirits of deceased relatives visited their old homes near windows or the doorway. They’d enter and expect a meal for them. Following the meal they’d attend a night mass held by a priest’s soul.
Women typically baked bread for the souls and given to children or the poor or left on the graves of the dead to bring good fortune.
Kawasaki Halloween Parade — Japan
Thousands of people turn out annually to the Kawasaki Halloween Parade, just outside of Tokyo. Those people all register for the parade and for a chance to win up to 100,000 yen for the best costume price. The parade has gone on for more than 20 years and has some of the most creative costumes in the world.
You can get pretty creative with a roll of duct tape like these people did with their frightening fantastic costumes.
Ognissanti — Italy
Ognissanti is All Saints’ Day in Italian and a national holiday but Halloween celebrations have grown throughout the past 30 years to the point where you can find Halloween parties at amusement parks and clubs.
All Saints’ Day usually involves a feast and is a day to celebrate saints. Families attend mass during the day and return to have a big meal. The meal typically includes Pane dei Santi, which is All Saints’ bread.
In some parts of Italy people will keep a bottle of water out for the dead while others will leave food, too.
Night of Spirits — Romania
In the land of Dracula you’ll find tours of Bran Castle, home to Vlad the Impaler in Transylvania, Romania. Vlad the Impaler often is associated with Dracula from Bram Stoker’s novel because he also went by the name Vlad Dracula and it is still debated whether Vlad the Impaler ever captured Bran Castle. But don’t let the mythology get in the way of a good story.
Romanians do celebrate the night of Saint Andrew, the patron saint of Romania who fought off wolves on his way to Romania, on Nov. 30 and it was believed wolves and evil spirits were released. Wolves are a symbol of the winter. People hung garlic near doors to ward off wolves and spirits. Legend also has it that wolves could speak and if anyone was attacked they could turn into a werewolf.
Awuru Odo Festival — Nigeria
The Odo are the spirits of the dead in Nigeria who return to visit their families. The dead spend up six months with the living during the festival and appear as masked males and females. They’re welcomed back with celebrations and gift giving.
Masks and costumes are made of plant fiber, leaves, beads and feathers and there are plays performed during the event, which happens every two years. Women prepare food for the festival and sing as part of a chorus on songs.
The Odo speak in guttural sounds and where large masks made of bamboo, cloth and leaves.
Check out how one woman came up with a devilishly creative Halloween decoration by repurposing items around the home.
Pchum Ben — Cambodia
Pchum Ben, the 15-day Cambodian religious festival usually occurs near the end of September and extends into mid-October, depending on the year. Cambodians pay their respects to deceased relatives as far back as seven generations. Ceremonies during the festival include monks chanting nonstop overnight as a prelude to the gates of hell opening. Once the gates open, ghosts are supposed to be released. To appease the ghosts people prepare food offerings. Oftentimes rice balls are thrown in the air or rice is tossed in an empty field.
Samhain — Ireland and Scotland
The Irish and Scottish celebrate Samhain, known as the end of the light half of the year, by holding bonfires, games and eating barmbrack, an Irish fruitcake that has coins, buttons and rings for fortune telling.
It’s celebrated from Oct. 31 to Nov. 1 and is believed to have Celtic pagan roots. It’s a period of time where spirits could come into the world and they needed to be offered food and drink to ensure cattle and people would survive the winter.
In the past people went door-to-door in costume reciting verses for food. It’s believed that Samhain is the origin for trick or treating.
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