Will You Be Away from Home on Halloween?
Traveling far from home on Halloween can be particularly hard for young children, who view Halloween festivities as a reason to dress up, get spooky, and stay out late with friends and family hunting for candy. One of the challenges for parents who are traveling with children during this time is to help little ones both learn about the traditions of the place they are visiting, while maintaining some of the more familiar traditions from home. Halloween is not universally celebrated around the world, and some cultures have very different traditions than the ones you may be used to.
Here is a brief snapshot of how Halloween is celebrated in five countries around the world.
Halloween actually has its roots in the cultures of England, Scotland, Wales, and Ireland, where spirits were believed to walk among the living on the night before All Saints Day. In recent times, celebrating Halloween by wearing costumes and trick or treating door to door has become more common. It would not be unexpected to go out with your family door to door expecting some good old fashioned candy! Other typical celebrations include parties, watching horror movies, or playing games such as bobbing for apples. Depending on the age level and interests, you may even be tempted to take your family for spooky visits to the London Dungeons!
Japan has been a relatively late arrival to the Halloween party. It’s only been over the past ten years that the Japanese have embraced the spirit of Halloween, and it is now common in cities across the country to find costumes, candy, and Halloween parties to enjoy with the family. Since only a fraction of the population celebrates Halloween, it is still uncommon to see Jack-o-lanterns in the windows of homes or for children to trick or treat. It is common however, for Japan’s youth to dress up (Kosupure) and don outfits of their favorite anime or computer game characters. Many stores and malls throw parties or give out candy to revelers.
Although trick or treating is becoming more and more popular in Mexico in recent years, deep rooted traditions make Halloween festivities secondary to the Day of the Dead “El Dìa de los Muertos” festivities held annually on November 2nd , although in more recent years celebrations have begun stretching out from October 31 until November 2, encompassing Halloween. During Mexico’s equivalent of “All Saints Day” families visit cemeteries to honour those departed, as the belief is that souls return to their earthly homes on that date to spend time with their loved ones. Festivities are grandiose in comparison with traditional Halloween celebrations, and are deeply religious rather than commercial. Altars are constructed in homes, paying respect to the dead, and picnics are held in cemeteries where families sing songs and eat treats such as the traditional sweet bread “pan de muerto,” and there are processions that move through cities and towns. A unique and exciting experience for anyone lucky enough to participate.
Although there is some belief that the ancient precursor to modern day Halloween, Samhain, may have been celebrated in France, modern day Halloween festivities are a relative novelty. Since the 1990s, Halloween celebrations have become more commonplace, popularized at first by the expatriate communities in and around Paris. More recently, Halloween has caught on commercially, with stores decorating windows, selling Halloween themed candy, and costume parties being thrown at local nightclubs and bars. Some schools also have in-class celebrations where children can wear costumes to school. As far as trick or treating for families, going door to door is still not commonplace in most locations in France. Instead, children often go trick-or-treating at participating stores that hand out candy, or throw private Halloween parties where candy is distributed to guests.
Australia is unsurprisingly becoming a very Halloween friendly country with each year that passes. The commercial aspect of the holiday is obvious in the store window decorations and candy sales. More and more children don spooky outfits on October 31st, and trick-or-treating is becoming quite common. Halloween falls during spring in Australia, so the weather is usually pleasant and kids can head out without a jacket under their costume! For families traveling Down Under during Halloween, it should be easy to join in and enjoy the festivities, so have fun!