Halloween is celebrated around the world on October 31st. Derived from ancient rituals and religious festivals, Halloween is still widely celebrated in various forms. It is so named because it falls on the eve of All Hallows Day. This holiday originated from the Celtic pagan festival of Samhain to celebrate the end of the harvest when spirits then came back to life and destroyed crops. Today’s celebrations differ. Many Halloween festivities in the United States are built upon the traditions of past cultures. From costume parties, trick-or-treating, pranks, and parades to festivals to remember the dead and lost loved ones, the celebrations vary based on region, culture, and belief.
Samhain or Halloween in Dublin, Ireland
Take in the origins of pagan fall festivals in the Celtic homelands. Samhain, or the Feast of the Dead, begins at sunset on October 31st and ends at sunset on November 1st. This marks the end of fall and the beginning of winter. People often believed spirits came back and destroyed their crops. They dressed in costumes and carved turnips to keep fairies away.
The legend of Jack O’Lantern and his pumpkin even got its start in Ireland. When Jack taunted the devil too many times, the devil claimed Jack’s soul. Jack was doomed to roam alone only coming back each Halloween to scare children. Many modern Halloween celebrations stem from Irish traditions. Children still get dressed up to go trick-or-treating. Rural areas still have bonfires and festivities to celebrate Samhain.
To experience the Halloween celebrations, visit Dublin, Ireland. Take in a Ghost Bus Tour to discover Irish legends. Watch the Samhain parade. Late at night, don your costume and head to the pubs for a costume party.
Día de los Muertos, Mexico
Known as the Day of the Dead, celebrations take place throughout Latin America during the end of October. All Souls’ Day is November 2nd. This day is commemorated after a three-day celebration starting on October 31st. Commonly confused with modern Halloween festivities, the Day of the Dead celebration remembers the dead who return to their earthly homes during this period. Families prepare altars decorated with candies, flowers, pictures, food, and water. Candles and incense are burned to help loved ones find their way home. Gravesites are cleaned up and decorated as well. The celebrations end with family members gathering at the gravesites for a picnic to reminisce. The festivities may be topped off with tequila, mariachi bands, and marigolds. The festival is a way to join with family and friends in remembering and celebrating the lives of loved ones.
If you want to observe the Day of the Dead celebrations in their true form, visit San Miguel de Allende for the weeklong Festival La Calaca (Skull Festival) or Mexico City where the church and village prepare for months in advance for these celebrations.
One of the first places that often comes to mind is Transylvania. Full of spooky myths about the most famous vampire of all time, Romania has much to offer to those looking for a scare fix. Sparked by the terrifying ruler, Vlad the Impaler, one of the most terrifying fictional characters of all time was created. Dracula. The rugged mountains, rolling hills, picturesque streams, castles, and quaint villages provide quite the setting for Halloween tales. Check out the Count Dracula Circuit to view the sets and discover the historical setting of Bram Stoker’s novel.
For a scary Halloween trip, try the Dracula Tour for a comprehensive celebration. Enjoy an intimate dinner party in Sighisoara Citadel, Dracula’s birthplace. Take part in Halloween parties at Hotel Dracula’s Castle and Bran Castle. Help a spirit find peace through the Ritual Killing of the Living Dead.
In Japan, the spooky season is in August with the Buddhist Obon festival. At this time, spirits return home to dance and celebrate with their families. Families tell ghost stories and reminisce. However, this is not connected to Halloween. This festival has been around for over 500 years and usually lasts for 3 days.
The Americanized version of Halloween arrived in Japan in 2000 with Tokyo Disneyland. Since then, celebrations and festivities have skyrocketed across the country. While there is no door-to-door trick-or-treating, stores sell decorations and sweet treats. People dress in costumes. Throughout September and October, several theme parks and shopping malls offer parades, zombie runs, and costume parties. Park characters are transformed into spooky versions of themselves. Halloween brings in many locals and tourists who want to get into the scary spirit.
Whether you crave spooky, fun and lively, or traditional, there are various celebrations around the world.