Halloween is celebrated on October 31st every year, with children and adults alike dressing up in their spooky best. But did you know Halloween was originally a holiday meant to to honor deceased loved ones? Its history dates back to the Irish, over 2000 years ago, as an ancient pagan festival.
In the modern world, Halloween is celebrated in North America, including in Canada, United States, Mexico, and the Dominican Republic. European countries such as Ireland, Sweden, Spain, the United Kingdom, and parts of Italy also celebrate it, as well as in some Asian countries, such as China, Japan, and the Philippines.
Halloween is a major holiday in the United States. The US is responsible for popularizing Halloween. Although it is not an official holiday, there is a lot of pomp and buzz around Halloween in the entire country.
Both adults and children are involved in activities such as dressing up as ghouls and goblins, trick-or-treat, carving pumpkins, scary pranks, and games. Families, as well as businesses, decorate their homes and premises with Halloween decorations. There are lots of events and parties held across the country.
In the United Kingdom, Halloween falls around the same time as similar festivals such as Guy Fawkes Day and the Festival of Samhain. Halloween celebrations in the UK emphasize its Celtic roots and involve lighting bonfires, parades, and dancing. However, unlike the Americans, the Brits do not decorate their homes and premises for Halloween.
The Irish have been celebrating Halloween for thousands of years. It is still an integral part of their culture both in the rural and urban areas. Celebrations involve dressing up in costumes, trick-or-treat, treasure hunts, and playing games.
They also light bonfires like in the days of Celts, set off fireworks, and eatbarnback (a traditional Irish fruitcake). Instead of carving pumpkins and squash, they carve turnips or rutabaga. There are special events, street parties, parades, and fairs held in major cities such as Galway and Dublin.
One of the most popular Halloween games in Ireland is called “snap-apple”. An apple is tied on a string and then mounted on a tree or door frame. Players attempt to bite the hanging apple.
In China, Halloween is a fun, gimmicky, celebration. It is mainly celebrated by young people and expats in the main cities (Beijing, Shanghai, and Guangzhou). Celebrations involve dressing up and you might see some squash and pumpkin decorations in shop fronts or some grocery stores. Many clubs and bars in the main cities have a Halloween-themed night.
Halloween is celebrated as the Day of the Dead in Mexico. It is such a pompous festival that it made it to UNESCO’s list of Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity. People construct altars for their deceased loved ones, lay wreaths, and light candles in their memory. They also visit their graves with offerings such as sweetbreads and bottles of tequila.
Halloween celebrations in Mexico also involve fun activities such as costume-wearing, trick–or–treat, carving pumpkins and squash, and fun games.
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