Halloween is celebrated across the world and no more so than in the USA. Trick or treat, Halloween pranks, parties, and a celebration of scary ghoulishness; it is the highlight of October and heralds the beginning of the colder months with Christmas just around the corner.
So, what countries celebrate Halloween and where did it all start? Let’s look.
Halloween is the evening before a Catholic festival. November 1st is the Day of the Innocents and is a festival all about the innocence of children. All Souls Day on the 2nd of November is the day when Catholics pray for the souls of the departed. This day used to be called All Hallows Day because Hallow is an old word meaning soul. So, the word Halloween means the period before All Hallows Day.
In Mexico and other Latin countries, the three-day festival is all about honoring the dead. The dead are believed to return to their homes on All Souls Day (The day of the dead in Spanish) and are welcomed with bread, candy flowers and candles as well as their pictures and photographs often decorated with flowers for the occasion.
Across the world, Halloween has increased in importance and most people don’t even question the reasons why we celebrate it every year.
If you want to know what countries celebrate Halloween, globalisation, and influence of all thing’s American means that many local festivals are losing out to the popularity of Halloween.
In the UK for example, the 5th of November or Guy Fawkes Night was always the most popular autumn festival. It commemorates the capture of Guy Fawkes who tried to blow up the Houses of Parliament but was caught. In memory of this event, the British construct effigies or guys and burn them on a bonfire and set off fireworks.
This wasn’t just because Guy Fawkes needed such a send off. The Protestant church did not allow the celebration of Catholic festivals like All Souls Day, so the 5th of November provided a new reason for an autumn event. Today in the UK Halloween and Guy Fawkes Night have melded together in one major autumn festivity.
In Catholic Ireland, Halloween is celebrated in the same way as in the USA. There are some regional variations and bonfires play a major part in events but otherwise the people of Ireland celebrate Halloween in pretty much the same way as their counterparts in the USA
Although it is easy to put a religious meaning on Halloween in the context of the Catholic Church, the true origins of the festival come from the older pagan festival of Samhain.
Samhain begins on 31st October and ends in the evening of November 1st. According to Celtic mythology, the festival marked the end of the harvest season, and it was believed to be a time when the boundaries between our world and the netherworld were reduced, and spirits could return to the earth.
So, what countries celebrate Halloween now? This annual festival has spread around the world and for most people it is just a great excuse to dress up, play games and create a spooky atmosphere. However, the origins of this once important religious festival date back thousands of years. So even though the way we celebrate may have changed, isn’t it great that we are all following such an ancient tradition?