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Monday, October 12, 2009

Halloween Traditions from around the world

If you follow my blog—and I hope you have signed on by now—no doubt you are well aware of my love for traditions, legend and lore. I simply adore them and consider each new one a cherished treasure. Since the first of October, I’ve been posting tid bits about Halloween, superstitions and fun facts. Today, I am blogging about Halloween traditions from around the world. And today, I’ve decided to run a contest. And remember, you can go back to any and all posts starting on October 1 and continue through October 31st I will go through all comments and choose a winner. The winner will be announced on November 1st and will receive a Moonlight Past treat bag from Bath&Body. But in order to be entered in the contest, you must first sign up to follow my blog—and leave a comment. And remember, the more blogs you comment on, the better your chances are of winning the treat!

So here is how Halloween is celebrated around the world. Enjoy!

Thought to be where the holiday originated, in rural areas, it is celebrated with bonfires. Children dress up in costumes and go trick or treating in their neighborhood. This is followed by a party where the celebration continues with games and frolic and traditional food.
A game of snap-apples is a favorite. Apples are hung from tree limbs and children attempt to bite them. Door frames are also used. Another game is placing cards face down on a table. Beneath each is a coin or a candy and the child keeps what he or she finds. Barnbrack is eaten at parties, a type of cake. In the center of the cake is a muslin-wrapped trinket said to foresee the eater’s future. If a ring is found, a wedding will occur before year’s end. If a strip of straw, the year will be healthy, wealthy and wise! Rather than pumpkins, turnips are carved and carried around when trick or treating.

Carries on with the Celtic tradition. Children dress in costumes and trick or treat in their neighborhoods. The “Snap-apple” game has been changed to “Bobbing for apples” where apples must be retrieved from water. Jack-o-lanterns are carved out of the traditional pumpkin and homes are decorated with skeletons, ghosts and goblins. Candy corn and caramelized popcorn balls wrapped in festive colors are traditional in the US along with gingersnap cookies and hot apple cider with cinnamon sticks

Considers Halloween a magical night. But rather than dress up and trick or treat, some practice the tradition of leaving bread and water and a lighted lamp on the kitchen table to welcome the dead into the world for one evening

Superstitious Belgiums believe it bad luck for a black cat to cross one’s path, enter a home or a ship! They light candles to welcome dead relatives to enter the home

The Scottish and Irish brought the tradition of Halloween to Canada. Canadians carve faces out of jack-o-lanterns, the children dress and trick or treat and have parties. Doors are decorated with corn stalk, inviting children to knock for treats.

The Chinese festival is called “Peng Chi” and is celebrated by placing food and water in front of photos of deceased loved ones. Bon fires are lit to light the way for the roaming spirits.

Chairs are placed before a roaring fire for each living family member and each deceased member

Only in recent years has the American tradition been shared with the English. Children today, dress up and knock on doors for treats. But years ago, the festival was celebrated by children carving faces out of beets and walking through the streets with them while singing “The Pumpkie Night Song.” Other traditions included lighting a bonfire and pitching such things as nuts and stones in to the flames to frighten off the spirits. Some hung the carved out beet on gateposts to ward off evil spirits.

The French are only now beginning to celebrate the holiday. Still thought of as primarily an American holiday, some refuse to recognize the day. But due to their love of parties and masquerades, the French began a few decades ago to embark on the festivities. How they celebrate, however, greatly differs from the US and other countries. The French throw big costume parties at homes, halls and bars. And their costumes, both for the children and adult population, portray the gruesome as mummies, ghosts and vampires opposed to the pretty as Snow White or superheroes or cartoon characters. Another difference is children do not go from door to door in neighborhoods but from store to store in the village. Bakeries and candy shops have prepared special treats for the day. The pumpkin is not much grown in France and farms that harvest them flourish at this time.

The Germans put all knives away for twenty four hours because they fear spirits will return to use them on the living.

Halloween in Hong Kong is known as “Yeu” Land of the Hungry Ghost. It is believed the spirits roam the earth for twenty-four hours. Some burn pictures of fruit or money , believing it will bring comfort to the spirits.

The day is referred to as the “Obon Festival” and honors deceased ancestors. Bright red lanterns are hung everywhere and special foods are prepared. Candles are set in lanterns and placed in rivers and seas where they float. In certain areas, the path from the grave to the home is swept to welcome the spirit and the house is thoroughly cleaned. Fires, bonfires and community dances are also part of the celebration.

The Korean holiday is referred to as “Chusok” to honor the dead. Rice and fruit are taken to tombs and is celebrated in August.

The holiday is referred to as “El Dia de los Muertos” and is a day of festivity to honor both the living and the dead. Sweet treats are made in the shape of skeletons and food and water is placed on tables for the spirits which are thought to return this festival. Dancing takes place and a live person is placed in the grave and carried through the streets. Tequila is drunk and the mariachi band plays, candy and skeletons are tossed in the casket.

The Celtic holiday was originally celebrated to ward off evil spirits and to welcome the spirits of deceased loved ones home for twenty-four hours. While the names and traditions have changed through the years, the Celts believe in honoring the day. In Scotland and Wales, a ride on a ghost train or haunted train is taken when people dress in costumes and celebrate good times. Some of the traditions ncludes tossing nuts into a fire and cooking meat as a pig on an open fire. Pumpkins, beets and turnips are used as jack-o-lanterns.

Tell me your superstition. Don’t forget to sign up as a follower and you will be entered in the Halloween contest.


Mary Ricksen said...

Hi Sharon, I find it very interesting to hear what they do in other countries. I kinda like it here. but no one ever mentions cabbage night the night before Halloween! Wonder why?

Sharon Donovan said...

Hi Mary. Maybe because no one has heard of it? Cabbage Night? Now that's interesting. Tell us about it!

P.L. Parker said...

Hi Sharon. Love the traditions. My wisdom for Halloween - if it's name is Jason, don't go there. Very simple.

Sharon Donovan said...

Patsy! Words to live by this time of year!! Beware...