¡Dulce o Truco!
I clearly remember the day I got into New York and saw giant pumpkins all around Central Park. Street markets looked like a farm, stocked up with pumpkins instead of fruits and veggies. In that moment I noticed how Halloween can have various meanings, importance and be celebrated in many different ways by all cultures around the globe.
Ireland – The beginning
For the Irish people, Halloween is a way of celebrating the Samhain, when it was believed that the ghosts of the dead returned to earth. It’s in Ireland the origins of the celebration began, dating back to the ancient Celts that used to live in the country 2000 years ago. Big bonfires, parades and costumes of saints, angels and devils are popular even today.
USA – The biggest celebration
At first, the celebration of Halloween in USA was extremely limited. Just as when the Protestant system in colonial New England was not so rigid any more that the party became popular as it is today, being one of the favourite celebrations for the American people.
South America and Spain
In South America and Spain it’s not really common to celebrate Halloween. Countries where people speak hispanic languages like to celebrate the All Souls Day on Nov 1st and the Day of the Dead on 2nd. They do that by visiting and cleaning the graves of deceased loved ones, taking flowers and praying. Otherwise, they do parties and dressing up like Zombies, Witches and Vampires.
But in Mexico it is different. Mexicans celebrate the Day of the Dead or the Día de los Muertos with three days of consecutive holidays, as Halloween is followed by All Saints Day. With similar customs and traditions as South America, they celebrate with huge parties, decorating houses with colourful garlands with the dead person’s favorite food and drink. Relatives and friends also visit the cemeteries where they celebrate with music, food and prayers.
On the other side of the world in Thailand, we have the not very expressive Phi Ta Khon, a parade where the locals celebrate and pray for Buddha. Countries like Japan and Malaysia have small celebrations, imitating the parties in the USA.
The common thread running through these countries is that the majority of kids are dressing up in costumes as saints, vampires, angels, devils and zombies. Any time you can open the door, anywhere in the world and be surprised for a “Trick-or-treating?”, coming from little ghouls and goblins.
In the land down under, Halloween is not much of a tradition. Australians gave little relevance to the occasion until a few years ago. Recently, private parties are more commonly held than actual “trick-or-treating”. Coming home a few minutes ago and to my surprise, I passed by this home, totally prepared for the celebration. Have you got your costumes ready?
For the origin of the Halloween, check out: