Celebrations of Ghosts and Goblins Throughout the World

Everyone around the world is fascinated with celebrating ghosts and goblins and the possible return of the dead this October. Here in America we have our own traditions and customs to celebrate the holiday and make the most of Halloween night even before Halloween is here. Pumpkin patches, trunk or treats and other community events this time of year are overrun with parents and children celebrating. What about the rest of the world? In this edition of our Halloween series we explore Halloween traditions and customs around the globe.

In Mexico, Latin America and Spain they celebrate All Soul’s Day. This is traditionally celebrated through a three day period the first of which begins on Halloween. The celebration honors the dead who are believed to return to their homes early on Halloween night. Candles are burned to help the dead find their way home and relatives clean up the graves of their family members as a sign of respect. Many families erect alters with candy, flowers, photos, and examples of the deceased’s favorite foods and drinks along with fresh water. A wash basin is presented so that the spirit can freshen up before their meal. Festival foods for this celebration feature decorative skulls. All of it ends on November 2nd when families celebrate with reminiscing and a picnic.

England does not celebrate Halloween at all rather they celebrate Guy Fawkes Day. The English stopped celebrating Catholic traditions after the Reformation led by Martin Luther. Instead they commemorate the execution of notorious English traitor Guy Fawkes. Fawkes was executed after being convicted of trying to blow up England’s parliament building. After this act Guy Fawkes became notorious with the English people. People celebrate this day with bonfires to commemorate his death. Kids even ask for a penny for “the guy” but keep the money themselves. This is similar in nature to trick or treating practices celebrated here in the United States. Guy Fawkes Day is November 5th of each year.

Ireland has a strong tradition with Halloween. Halloween there is celebrated much like it is here in the United States. Rural areas burn bonfires to remember their ancient Celtic ancestors who created them for the harvest and the celebrations of Samhain. It is believed that they are credited as being the ancient originators of Halloween. Other activities to commemorate the holiday include trick or treating, scavenger hunts and card games. Children are also known to play tricks on their neighbors and friends.

Interestingly the Irish have their own foods specifically for Halloween. They eat Barnbrack which is a fruitcake with a ring baked inside. Similar to the Mardi-Gras cakes here there is a ring and a piece of straw placed inside of the fruitcake. They person who finds the piece with the ring is the person is soon to be wed. The person who finds the piece with the straw is set to have a prosperous year ahead. These are just a portion of the traditions celebrated by our neighbors from around the globe. Maybe take these traditions as ideas to incorporate into your own Halloween celebrations this year. You never know spooky season might just get a little bit better.

Source: Elizabeth Lane, Jefferson County Post Staff Writer