International students celebrate different Halloween traditions

Earth_Western_HemisphereCompiled by staff


In Austria, Catholics celebrate from Oct. 30 to Nov. 8 as Seleenwoche or “All Souls’ Week,” which is dedicated to the saints and martyrs. Some people welcome the dead souls back to Earth by leaving bread, water and a lighted lamp on their dining table when they go to bed. On Nov. 2, or “All Souls’ Day”, Catholics attend a special Requiem mass where they pay tribute to lost loved ones, according to


To celebrate Halloween in Belgium, many people light candles in memory of their deceased relatives, according to Like in America, it is also believed that a black cat crossing one’s path is bad luck. If a black cat found its way into a home or ship, kiss good luck goodbye.

 Great Britain/England

Hallowe’en in England has gone by many names; Some call it Mischief Night, others- Nutcracker Night or Snap Apple Night, according to However, unlike many other countries, British believe that good luck is associated with the black cat, and the white cat is considered to be the epitome of bad luck. The Church of England celebrates “All Souls Day” on Nov. 2 which is dedicated to the souls who are still in purgatory. It is believed that lighting candles and saying prayers for the dead shorten the time they will suffer in purgatory before they ascend to Heaven. In North England, lighting bonfires is central to the Hallowe’en traditions, which are rooted in the witch trials.


In the Philippines, All Saint’s Day is celebrated from the Oct. 31 to Nov. 2, according to Filipinos celebrate with candles, flowers, prayers, and visits to the cemetery to pay respect to the dead. Despite the somber sound of it, it is in fact a happy celebration. It often serves as a means to get together with friends and family, and there are games, eating, drinking and an overall party feeling.


Poland has customs that bear resemblance to the Phillipines; however, in Poland, All Saint’s Day is a much more somber holiday, according to The All Saint’s Day celebration is not generally viewed as a happy holiday within Poland. Rather, it is a day to remember and pay respects to those who have died. Windows and doors are generally left open to welcome spirits. While trick or treating does happen, Polish All Saint’s Day is generally a sad day of reflection on those recently lost.


Halloween is not celebrated at all in Portugal, according to Rather, Portugal celebrates the Day of the Dead, like many Latin American countries. Generally, offerings are made to the deceased on this day, and many of the same customs as other Day of the Dead celebrating countries are observed in Portugal.


Parentalia is a Roman traditional holiday that reflects much of the Halloween customs that are widely shared on a universal scale. This nine day holiday is celebrated by residents of Rome on Feb. 13 to honor the ancestors that have left this world and entered the afterlife, according to During this holiday, many family members will bring food, drinks, flowers, and even the blood of a black animal to the graves of their ancestors, much like an offering.


In Scotland, according to, one of the common traditions performed during this Scottish holiday is when children take vegetables (such as turnips or potatoes) and cut faces out of them. This tradition was one of the early predecessors to American jack-o-lanterns.


In the village of Igbo, Nigeria, the natives celebrate Odo Festival. According to, they make different masquerade masks for the spirits of the dead to return to earth and dwell with the living. The spirits are allowed to roam the earth for six months before returning to their graves for two years.


On Nov. 2, the people of Sicily celebrate “All Saints’ Day,” according to, a day similar to Christmas. The children wake up in the morning to find candy, gifts and cookies. Instead of Santa Claus, it is believed that the dead rose from their graves the night before to deliver the goodies to them.


In Spain, the natives celebrate Halloween on Nov. 2nd by attending their Catholic churches and honoring the Roman Catholic Saints for “All Saints’ Day,” according to They may also travel to their ancestor’s graves to honor the passing of their loved ones. The following day, many participate in a mass requiem that honors close friends and relatives who are deceased.


From Oct. 31 to Nov. 2, the Welsh celebrate Vigil of Samhain (Lord of the Dead) by writing their names on a white stone and throwing it into a bon fire. According to, the Welsh will dance and pray around the fire throughout the night. In the morning, the people dig through the ashes to see if any of the stones are missing; if any are missing, then that person will die in the coming year.

 Czech Republic

The Czech Republic celebrates Halloween in a way that more closely resembles Memorial Day in the United States according to Instead of dressing up in costumes and trick or treating, Czech residents visit cemeteries where their deceased loved ones are buried, decorate the graves and often light candles in their memory. The holiday, known as Commemoration of all of the Departed, is actually held on Nov. 2 instead of Oct. 31.


Slovakia celebrates Halloween in much the same way that the Czech Republic does, according to a blog kept by Kristína Havasová, a Slovak expatriate in the United States. They also decorate the graves of departed loved ones and light candles at the grave sites. One difference is Slovakia observes the celebration on Nov. 1 instead of Nov. 2.

Hong Kong

Hong Kong has a traditional celebration called Yue Lan during which money, food or pictures are burned so they become gifts for ghosts who wander the earth on the “Day of the Dead,” according to Halloween itself has been recently imported into Hong Kong by expatriates from western cultures, according to and citizens of Hong Kong often celebrate with costumes and parties in the downtown area.


In China the Hallowe’en festivals are known as Teng Chieh, and The Feast of the Hungry Ghosts, according to Teng Chieh is where food and water are placed in front of photographs of relatives of people and bonfires and lanterns are lit to light the spirits path back to earth. The Feast of the Hungry Ghosts is dedicated to earthbound spirits who wander the earth for search of affection and is usually during the seventh lunar month. The spirits are offered Joss [incense] sticks, food and gifts.


Canada celebrates Halloween similar to the way America celebrates, according to It all began in the 1800’s when the Scottish and Irish immigrants began to arrive. They decorate their houses with jack o’lanterns and corn stalks. They also trick-or-treat and host Halloween parties.


Halloween has been said to begun thousands of years ago, with the tribe of farmers called the Celts according to They knew that the sun grew their crops and when autumn came that it would get darker earlier. They believe the sun was the winters prisoner and that the only way to have the sun come back after winter was to have a festival called the Samhain Festival on Oct. 31. They would put out all cooking fires and made a huge bonfire that was lit on the hillside. Here they prayed the sun would shine brightly after winter was over. To the Celts cat we’re considered spirits and could predict the future.


Brazil does not celebrate Halloween, although they do have a small celebration while the children attend Gardening School, which is similar to Jr. High in America. The celebration just involves candy and it is held on Oct 31. Other than in gardening school no celebrations are done including elementary and high school. According to Flipe Yamada, computer science major, Brazil does not have a reason for not celebrating Halloween.


Mexico does not celebrate Halloween; rather, they celebrate “Day of the Dead”, or Dia De Los Muertos. On Nov. 2, families and friends visit the graves of relatives to clean the graves, leave small gifts, and remember the departed. Candy skulls are also created by families to sell on the streets. As said by Jesus Rodriguez, Crowder student, “Day of the Dead is a very important part of our culture. It is a well loved tradition”.


Argentina didn’t used to have a whole lot of Halloween celebrating, but it’s becoming increasingly common now. Children dress up and go trick or treating, and a lot of nightclubs offer a young adult environment for people to dress up and have fun until morning. “When I was growing up, being out in the street knocking at strangers’ houses was not a very good idea, but my city is a lot safer now,” said foreign exchange student Sofia Saledos of Buenos Aires.


Halloween in Sweden is very similar to Halloween in America; trick or treating, decorating houses, and watching scary movies. However, it’s not as big of a deal there. “It’s not a big feast in Sweden, so I’m looking forward to seeing how you guys celebrate Halloween,” says Swedish student Gustav Kennestig.