Halloween Around the World (Slideshow)


Halloween is just around the corner, and millions of children in North America, and across the globe, are preparing their costumes, carving pumpkins, and gearing up to go door-to-door asking for candy. Though we might associate Halloween today with chocolate candies and silly pranks, the holiday actually has its roots in religious traditions. The origin point of North American halloween customs, for instance, can be traced back to Scotland and Ireland. But it’s not just the British isle that venerates the dearly departed: cultures across the world do it, too. Click through to read about some of the Halloween, and Halloween-like, holidays, festivals and celebrations across the globe.


1. China: Yu Lan.

Known in English as the Hungry Ghost Festival, this month-long celebration marks the return of the departed to the world of the living. Living relatives burn fake money, televisions, and other big-ticket items as an offering to the deceased; they also offer up elaborate meals as sacrifice, and stage elaborate operas to entertain the spirits.


2. Sicily: Tutti i Santi.

Children on the Italian island of Sicily eagerly await All Saints’ Day each year, with the promise of visits from their dearly departed loved ones. The fact that these spirits bring along candy, particularly frutta di martorana, marzipan in the shape of fruits, and toys, doesn’t hurt, either. It’s also a day to visit the graves of the deceased, making sure they’re in tip-top shape.


3. England: Guy Fawkes Night.

North American Halloween may have originated in the British Isles, but the holiday isn’t nearly as popular as it is on the other side of the Atlantic. What is popular, though, is Guy Fawkes Night, celebrated by lighting bonfires each November 5th. So who was Guy Fawkes, and why does he have his own holiday? Well, back in 1605 Guy Fawkes was part of a plot to oust the Protestant King James I and replace him with a Catholic leader. The attempt failed and Fawkes was arrested; November 5th was the day of his execution.


4. Japan: The Obon.

The Japanese version of Halloween, related to the Chinese Hungry Ghost festival, isn’t a night of spooks, screams, and scares: rather, the spirits return to earth to visit their living relatives. The living relatives, in turn, place lanterns outside of their homes to help guide the spirits; at the end of the festival, they place lit lanterns in a river, signaling that the spirits are returning to the afterlife.


5. Mexico: Dia de Los Muertos.

Perhaps the most widely celebrated variation of All Saints’ Day in the United States, Dia de Los Muertos, or Day of the Dead, honors and celebrates deceased loved ones. With roots in both traditional Aztec culture and in Spanish Christian culture, Dia de Los Muertos is one of the most popular holidays in Mexico. Traditions vary by region, but often involve the construction of an elaborate altar in the home.


Jennifer Manzi
Jennifer Manzi2 years ago

Cool pictures, the Japanese one is peaceful.

donald Baumgartner

#3 we're the "prettiest".

matt gowty
matt gowty3 years ago

LOVE Halloween :) I don't think Guy fawkes night is part of it though?

Martha Ferris
Martha Ferris4 years ago

Thanks for sharing!

Kathy Perez
Kathy Johnson4 years ago


Sheri P.
Sheri P4 years ago

interesting tidbits...thanks!

Edgar Zuim
Edgar Zuim4 years ago

Interesting... trick or treat

Heidi R.
Past Member 4 years ago

Your information is wrong, Katie!

USA's Halloween celebrations originated in the British Isles where Halloween (Samhain) celebrations were and still are a time of reverence of the dead. These celebrations were brought to North America by British and Irish immigrants. The British Halloween is followed by the British churches All Saints' Day on 1 November. All Saint's Day was the church's attempt at giving the Pagan Holiday a Christian significance.

The commemoration of Guy Fawkes Night in November is something entirely different!

Guy Fawkes Night in the British Isles celebrates the thwarting of the Guy Fawkes revolt against the British government, in which Guy (Guido) Fawkes tried to ruin Britain. He began his revolt by attempting to burn down the Houses of Parliament . This plot was foiled and the Houses of Parliament still stood. This night is also called the Gunpowder Plot of 1605. It has nothing to do with Halloween. It is commemorated in November not October and has absolutely nothing to do with the dead or reverence. Remember, remember the 5th of November! This is still said every year during the revelries of the British who celebrate the defeat of Fawkes.

Please get your facts right.

Dale O.

Hallowe'en has an interesting history. Some of these holidays shown are not really related but the photos are colourful.

Virginia Belder
Virginia Belder4 years ago