The Celebration of Halloween Around the World

If you’re a Halloween lover, chances are you decorate your home with spooky décor, from cobwebs and witches to jack o’ lanterns and ghosts. Here in the United States, we celebrate Halloween with trick or treating and costume parties. In other countries, they do things a bit differently. Let’s see how this spooky holiday is celebrated around the world.

Dia de los Muertos

Also known as Day of the Dead, this holiday in Mexico, Latin America and Spain honors deceased loved ones and ancestors. All Souls’ Day occurs on November 2, marked by a three-day celebration beginning on October 31. They believe that on this day once a year, dead loved ones return to their earthly homes, building altars decorated with candy, flowers, photographs, and fresh water, according to Even a wash basin is left for the spirit to clean up for the feast, along with candles and incense to guide the spirit home. Family members will travel to their loved ones’ graves, decorating them with flowers, streamers and wreaths. Some even have music and dancing, and of course a little tequila!

Guy Fawkes Day

In England, the night of November 5th is marked by bonfires, effigies and fireworks. It has less to do with Halloween and more to do with the ancient Celtic festival of Samhain. Once Martin Luther’s Protestant Reformation spread many, many years ago, his followers stopped believing in saints and therefore no longer celebrated All Saints’ Day. So emerged Guy Fawkes Day – a new autumn ritual honoring the execution Guy Fawkes, a notorious English traitor who was sent to prison in 1606 for threatening to blow up the Parliament building.

Children even walk the streets with an effigy of Guy Fawkes, asking for handouts calling “a penny for the guy.” This is as close as you’re going to get to trick or treating in England!

Halloween in Ireland

This is the country in which it all began. The celebrations are much the same as in America. People set bonfires and kids get dressed up in costumes while trick or treating. Afterwards, parties are held to continue the celebration, with games like “snap-apple” where participants have to bite the hanging fruit as it suspends from a string. They also bob for apples, and there may even be a treasure hunt or two.  You may even see a card game where prizes such as candy and coins are hidden under cards that are laid face down on a table.

In terms of food, barnbrack is a traditional fruitcake featuring a muslin-wrapped treat, inside which is an object that is said to tell the future of whoever is eating it. If the eater finds a ring, he or she will soon get married. If the eater finds a piece of straw, they will enjoy a prosperous year. The “trick” part of trick or treating is when kids play pranks such as “knock-a-dolly,” a version of  “ding dong ditch” here in the States. They ring someone’s doorbell and then run away quickly.

As you can see, Halloween is celebrated in various ways around the world. Brush up on the local culture of the language you’re looking to learn. BRIC Language Systems can help!