I`ve been in the US a few times before Halloween and I`ve seen the stores filling up with decoration material and ‘Trick-or-Treat’ goodies to hand out. But unfortunately I wasn`t around for the actual Halloween celebration.
I`ve always known Halloween is very popular in the US, but when I looked into it some more, different countries over the world have their version of this event. Hopefully this year I can attend a Halloween celebration in my own country.
What is Halloween?
Halloween is an annual holiday on October 31, when several activities take place, such as trick-or-treating, wearing costumes and attending costume parties, carving pumpkins, having bonfires, visiting haunted attractions, telling ghost stories or other frightening tales, and watching horror films.
How and where did Halloween start?
Halloween culture can be traced back to the Druids, a Celtic culture in Ireland, Britain and Northern Europe. Roots lay in the feast of Samhain, which was annually on October 31st to honor the dead.
Samhain signifies “summers end” or November. Samhain was a harvest festival with huge sacred bonfires, marking the end of the Celtic year and beginning of a new one. Many of the practices involved in this celebration were fed on superstition.*
‘Trick or Treating’ originated from the tradition of giving soul cakes to the poor, who would say prayers for the dead in return for cakes or money.
* I found this information on a website that tells all about Halloween.
Did you know
The colors orange and black used for Halloween are associated with orange for the Fall harvest and black with darkness and death.
Some people who don`t want to participate in the whole ‘trick-or-treating’ hype might fool you with putting glue on the door knob.
How do they celebrate it around the world?
Halloween is very popular in the USA, probably after Christmas and Thanksgiving, one of the most celebrated holidays, especially by families with children. The kids dress up and go trick-or-treating, they decorated their houses, carve pumpkins, …
But I wanted to know about other countries, so I learnt some new things.
In Ireland they have these Irish traditions
The pumpkin, traditionally known as Jack O Lantern, is a carved out pumpkin in the shape of a scary face with a candle inside.
Irish Halloween Food: The traditional Barnbrack, which is a bread that`s baked with several items in it, such as a coin (meaning richness), a rag (meaning being poor), a thimble (meaning you will never marry) and a ring (meaning you will marry within a year). So everyone would eat carefully and see what they had!
Ireland’s Halloween Bonfire, the tradition of the bonfire is said to have originated from Pagan times and the Celts to keep evil spirits away. I`ve read somewhere that they have bonfires in the UK on November 5th as an annual to mark the failure of the Gunpowder Plot of 5 November 1605, when there was attempted to destroy the Houses of Parliament in London. I`m happy to say, I`ll be attending my first bonfire this year in the UK!
And then there is of course the ‘trick-or-treating’ where kids dress up in costumes and go from house to house for candy.
So why doesn`t Belgium follow in these traditions even though Halloween originated in Northern Europe?
Maybe it`s because we`re already thinking of Christmas or Saint Nicholas? Saint Nicholas is also a children`s event, where kids get toys and treats on December 6th. And this is a very popular tradition in Belgium.
Still interested to know more? Then read about how other countries celebrate Halloween around the world.