As hard as it may be to imagine, Halloween is not celebrated all over the world. In fact, both the importance and the associated traditions with Halloween can vary greatly from country to country. North American influence can be seen though, with the Halloween traditions more familiar to the average Canadian becoming increasingly popular all over the world.
On Halloween night, children and adults alike dress up in scary costumes such as ghosts, zombies and witches, while people enjoy both bonfires and firework displays. Children in Ireland go door to door, much like children in North America, but instead collect fruits, nuts and sweets.
There is also a traditional Halloween cake in Ireland known as the barnbrack. There is a piece of rag, a coin and a ring baked into the cake. With each slice, people look to see if they got any of the trinkets. A rag signifies uncertain financial future, the coin represents a prosperous year and the ring signifies continued happiness.
Halloween is becoming increasingly popular in Australia with more and more people observing the holiday. More businesses are organizing Halloween parties for their staff and more children are taking part in trick-or-treating. Parents organize themselves into groups with their children who visit their neighbours to either receive a sweet or play a trick.
On Nov. 4 in Northern England, it is still popular for children to take part in Mischief Night where they play tricks on adults. The government had to step in and introduce fines when these tricks began turning into vandalism such as street fires and unhinging fence gates.
Halloween is gaining popularity in England due to North American cultural influence.
While more children are participating in trick-or-treating, some still see it as a form of begging.
Other traditions in England include the making of toffee apples and apple tarts.
Spain, Mexico, Latin America
Amongst Spanish speaking countries, Halloween is known as El Dia de los Muertos and is a time to remember friends and family who have passed away. The three-day festival begins on the night of Oct. 31 and ends on Nov. 2.
The holiday honors the dead who are believed to return to their homes on Halloween. Families build altars in their homes and decorate them with candy, flowers, photographs,
fresh water and bites of the loved one’s favourite dishes. A basin of water and towel are left out so that the spirit can wash up before eating the offering left for them.
Relatives also go to the loved one’s gravesite to tidy, leaving flowers and wreaths. On Nov. 2, the family gathers around the gravesite to picnic.