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The Best Halloween Celebrations Around the World

Written by The Leap on 13 / 10 / 2017

Gap Year Advice

The Best Halloween Celebrations Around the World

With Halloween quickly approaching, its time to get your spooky on. But whilst you get your killer outfit together, others around the world may be preparing slightly differently. So, here are some of the oldest and most celebrated Halloween traditions around the world.

1. The Hungry Ghost Festival - Hong Kong

For over 100 years, on the 15th day of the seventh lunar month, The Hungry Ghost Festival is held in Hong Kong. Celebrated by people originating from Chui Chow, of which there are now 1.2 million living in Hong Kong, it is one of the biggest celebrations of the year. During this month the Chui Chow people offer sacrifices to their ancestors and other ‘wandering ghosts.’ These offerings include burning incense and distributing free rice. Special bins are provided for people to burn material belongings such as watches and jewellery to appease the ancestors, showing the unimportance of material things.

Believing these ghosts get up to mischief if ignored, a number of plays and other entertainments are put on - remember not to sit in the front row… strictly for ghosts only.

2. Pitru Paksha - India

This Hindu religious celebration is only followed by the male members of the family. It involves 16 days offering food and water to ancestors. Pitru Paksha stems from the story of King Karna who was allowed back on earth for 16 days to help the needy. Giving food to ancestors ensures the whole family is blessed in the afterlife - they too are given food and water by their living descendants. Certain rules and regulations make this celebration a fascinating one. For example handling food has to be done with two hands, otherwise, it is believed the devil will snatch it away from your ancestors.

If you’re heading out make sure to have a read of the do’s and don’ts of Pitru Paksha

3. Zaduszki - Poland

Closely related to all souls day in Mexico, Dzień Zaduszny literally translates to 'the day of the prayer for souls'. On the 1st of November, people solemnly take to the streets, remembering their loved ones. Special transport is set up to the graveyards where people leave flowers and candles on their loved one's grave...a uniquely stunning sight. Women would traditionally cook special bread for the souls of the dead. It would be given to the children and the poor, or simply left on the graves.

Supposedly, on the night of Zaduski, people have to go to bed early to let the dead celebrate themselves.

4. Pchum Ben - Cambodia

Along with the Khmer New Year, Pchum Ben is the biggest celebration in the religious calendar. Everyone finds the time to come together and celebrate the dead, no matter how busy they may be. They present various offerings to their ancestors, and on the final day, people traditionally all meet at the pagoda. Various activities take place during this 15-day celebration, including buffalo racing! On the eve of the last night monks chant through the night to signal the opening of the gates of hell…spooky…

Find out more about Cambodia

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5. Awuru Odo Festival - Nigeria

Get your dancing shoes on with this Nigerian religious festival. Awuru Odo is celebrated by all of the Igbo religion but is mainly held in the city of Ukehe, Nigeria. It is believed that the Odo, the spirits of the dead, come back every 2 years. To celebrate this, the Odo, in the form of men wearing costumes and masks, make their way to the town centre. Here a performance takes place. This performance re-enacts the Odo’s visit back to their families, and heartbreak of having to say goodbye again.

The music accompanying this play is known as obilenu music - ‘That which lies above,’ and consist of xylophones and drums. When the performance is finished there is a huge celebration all through the night.

6. Dia de los Muertos - Mexico

The Halloween parties of Halloween parties. Dia de los muertos, or Day of the Dead, is celebrated in Mexico, Latin America and Spain. The celebrating consists of three full days of families honouring the dead, who are believed to come back on this day. Every night during the festivities, huge parades take place in the city. Locals dress up as skeletons, men dress up as women, and all go to the graveyards to welcome death.

Dia de los Muertos is a chance for people to show they are not afraid of death. To celebrate it instead of mourning it.

Get Travelling This Halloween

Although very different, all of these Halloween celebrations stem from deeply historic and meaningful backgrounds. Some, like the day of the dead, have taken a more light-hearted, celebratory approach. Others, such as Pitru Paksha have a more serious, solemn tone. All, however, are definitely worth seeing and experiencing… so get travelling this Halloween!

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