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Halloween-time traditions around the world

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Story highlights

Celebrations around the same time as Halloween include Día de Muertos, the Hungry Ghost Festival, All Saints' Day

In France, "people may go to cemeteries and they wear a flower to honor their departed"

In Guatemala, colorful kites are flown to honor the dead

CNN —  

In the United States, it’s that time of year when children dress in costume and parade the neighborhood, asking for sugary treats. Families may share scary stories around a bonfire, or curl up with popcorn to watch horror movies.

Halloween is upon us, with more than 175 million Americans planning to partake in festivities this year, according to the National Retail Federation.

Yet in other countries around the world, there are some very different celebrations that occur during the last week of October or first days of November.

“Halloween is pretty much a North American holiday, as we celebrate it now,” said Regina Hansen, a master lecturer at Boston University’s College of General Studies, who has expertise in Halloween-related practices throughout history and popular culture.

“There are countries that have All Saints’ celebrations or Day of the Dead or All Souls Day type of celebrations that are not Halloween,” she said. “They are different things that happen to occur at the same time.”

As American children delight in Halloween celebrations, here is just a sampling of some other fall festivities that families may be engaging in around the world.

Remembering ancestors and lives lost

“The mid-point between summer, in a general sense, and winter is a time traditionally associated with the remembrance of the dead in many cultures,” said Joseph Nagy, a professor in Harvard University’s Department of Celtic Languages and Literature in Boston, who has expertise in folklore and mythology.

Around the same time as Halloween, some families in Mexico gather to remember deceased friends and family members for a holiday known as el Día de los Muertos, or Day of the Dead, on November 2nd. Celebrations typically begin two days before.