Halloween around the world
Halloween, also known as All Hallows’ Eve or All Saints’ Eve, is an annual celebration held on October 31. Typical festive activities in most Western cultures include trick-or-treating, attending fancy dress parties, carving pumpkins into jack-o’-lanterns, lighting bonfires, playing pranks, visiting haunted houses, telling scary stories and watching horror films.
We asked some of our Gengo translators how Halloween is typically celebrated in their country, or if they have a similar holiday. Here’s what they said.
“There is an improvised masqueraded folk performance called Berikaoba, which usually involves several men and the berika (actors in a masked theatre), who are usually disguised as animals. Their costumes and masks are made of animal hide. Animal skulls, tails, feathers, horns, pumpkins, ribbons and bells are used to add color to the scene.”
—Lali, English to Russian
“We hold the Carnival of Venice that is similar to Halloween, but usually takes place during February or March each year. It started hundreds of years ago and is well-known for its elaborate masks, which are often hand-painted.”
—Silvia, English to Italian
“The national Polish tradition is to celebrate the Catholic Zaduszki (All Saints Day) on November 1 and Święto zmarłych (The Day of the Dead) on November 2. Before christianization, Slavs celebrated Dziady (Grandfathers Day) on the eve of November 1 to contact and secure the support of their forefathers’ souls.”
—Agnieszka, English to Polish
“We celebrate Día de Muertos (Day of the Dead) with an offering to our loved ones who have died, and help support their spiritual journey.”
—Laura, English to Spanish (Latin America)
“We celebrate with trick-or-treating, pumpkins, costumes, candies and yummy food, but also remember and pray for loved ones who have died.”
—Enrico, English to Italian
“Most Danes celebrate Allehelgensaften, which is a predecessor to Halloween (without all the commercialization of the holiday). We honor the great Saints, sing songs and overall just have a good time. These days, however, Halloween is pretty big in Denmark and is celebrated almost as much with treat-or-treating and carved pumpkins.”
—Frederik, English to Danish
“When I was child growing up in Spain, we celebrated The Day of All the Saints (O dia de todos os santos) where we visited our dead. Now I live in Hungary, and it goes by the same name (in Hungarian, Mindenszentek Napja). We take flowers to the graves of our dead relatives and light candles on their grave.”
—Adrián, English to Spanish
“In Catalonia, we celebrate Castanyada on October 31. We eat chestnuts, sweet potatoes and a pastry called panallet.”
—Eva, English to Spanish
“The seventh month of the old lunar calendar is known as Ghost Month. It is believed that once the seventh month begins, the gates of hell open and all the spirits living in the lower realms enter the human world and dwell among the living. During this month, Taiwanese people prepare offerings for the spirits of the dead and hold memorial services. We also take care to avoid certain behavior during the inauspicious time—people don’t get married, buy new houses or cars, or undergo surgical operations. This time of the year often brings about feelings of fear and dread, making it very different to the lighthearted Halloween celebrations of Western countries.”
—Youren, Japanese to Chinese (Traditional)
“We celebrate Purim, a Jewish holiday that commemorates the saving of the Jewish people from Haman, who was planning to kill all the Jews. It’s customary to dress up and get inebriated (really! It says so in the Torah!).”
—Alona, English to Hebrew
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