Did you know Ireland is considered the place where Halloween originated? The Gaelic pagan festival called Samhain marked the end of summer and beginning of winter, which was considered the darker half of the year and meant death for many. This period is when the dead were thought to return so villagers would light fires to ward off spirits. Irish immigrants brought the idea of All Hallow’s Eve to the USA.
Banks of Foyle Halloween Carnival in Derry
Halloween in England has become rather commercialized as well. But they do have many haunted castles and buildings to visit as well as some interesting celebrations that focus more on the end of the harvest and honoring the dead.
Halloween in Cheshire
Because Halloween is a Western tradition, it is not widely celebrated in the East except for in larger cities where expats live and there is more of a Western influence. Hong Kong has a few Halloween celebrations that are similar to events you might see in the USA.
Haunted Halloween at Hong Kong Disneyland
One of the most famous days related to Halloween is Dia de los Muertos, or Day of the Dead, in Mexico. Although this day coincides with All Soul’s Day, its history traces back almost 3,000 years and its roots are from the Aztecs. Because this day celebrates the deceased, skulls are associated with the celebrations. Sugar skulls were introduced by Italian missionaries and became an affordable way for the Mexicans to decorate their churches and honor their dead. While this celebration mostly takes place in the southern parts of Mexico, other Latin American countries also have their own celebrations. The USA also has a fascination with Day of the Dead with events in many cities throughout the country. Day of the Dead is celebrated November 1st and 2nd.
Day of the Dead Celebrations in Oaxaca
The USA definitely popularized and commercialized Halloween celebrations as we know it today. Kids pick out a costume to wear and go trick or treating. Haunted houses open up all over the country and many adults also enjoy dressing up. Although it may be hard to believe now, Halloween has very religious roots from when the Irish immigrants introduced All Soul’s Day. It has now morphed into something else, but there are still events that honor the traditional aspects of the holiday.
Festival of the Dead in Salem
How does your city celebrate Halloween? Let us know in the comments!