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10 Halloween Traditions You’ve Never Heard Of

Take a peek at how the rest of the world marks the end of harvest season

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A Woman Burns Offerings As Part of the Yu Lan Or Festival of the Hungry Ghost in Hong Kong ChinaJerome Favre/EPA/Shutterstock

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.

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Children, dressed in their colorful costumes make the rounds of the houses to solicit candies and sweets known as "trick or treat" to celebrate Halloween, the eve of the observance of All Saints Day in suburban Makati city, east of Manila, PhilippinesBullit Marquez/AP/Shutterstock

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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Hindu devotees perform the 'Tarpan' ritual during Mahalaya prayers, also known as Pitru Paksha, at the Banganga water tank, in Mumbai, IndiaDIVYAKANT SOLANKI/EPA-EFE/Shutterstock

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.

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Chrysanthemums White Yellow Flowersrevenaif/Shutterstock

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.

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The spectacular costumed attendees in the most annual amazing Halloween parade in JapanAduldej/Shutterstock

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.

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People visit the Monumental Verano Cemetery to honor their loved ones during All Saints' Day, in Rome, ItalyMASSIMO PERCOSSI/EPA-EFE/Shutterstock

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.

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Bran Castle, Dracula's Castle, Transylvania, RomaniaGsphoto/imageBROKER/Shutterstock

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.

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Awuru Odo Festival in NigeriaMhubng/Wikimedia Commons

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.

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Local residents throw some sands to build a small hill for their longing life as part of the ceremony to celebrate Pchum Ben, or Ancestors' Day, at a Buddhist pagoda of Arg Kraper on the outskirt of Phnom Penh, CambodiaHeng Sinith/AP/Shutterstock

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.

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People celebrate Samhain Samhain celebrations at Glastonbury, UKJason Bryant/London News Pictures/Shutterstock

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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