Holidays this Week Around the World

Just a quick note: In New England, we are preparing for Hurricane Sandy. They are predicting widespread power outages (and at our house probably cable/internet outages), so I do not know how often I will post this week, but am planning a few now, but if you do not hear from me that is why.

Also Sharing Saturday is still open for all your child-oriented crafts and activities!! Please come share!
Last week, I gave you a history of Halloween. This week I'm going to share some research on how Halloween is celebrated around the world as well as the other holidays this week: All Saints Day, All Souls Day, Day of the Dead, etc.
In the United States, Halloween has become a very commercialized holiday. It amazes me each year as stores open for only a month or so called Halloween Scream or something like that. We have at least three open in our town alone. Houses are more decorated for Halloween than some are for Christmas. I find it truly amazing. Perhaps because I don't really like Halloween, but it seems like an awful lot for a day meant to be to scare the evil spirits. Many people seem to want to invite them in now instead of scare them away. I just don't get it.

Some countries still keep some of the religious beliefs in their celebrations and some use it to remember their dead love ones.

In Austria people leave bread, water and a light on at bedtime during the week of Seleenwoche (Oct. 30 to Nov. 8) to welcome the dead souls back. (Source)

In Germany some people still hide their knives on Halloween to keep them away from the evil spirits. (Source)

In Belgium people light candles to remember dead loved ones. (Source)

In Czechoslovakia chairs are place around a fire: one for each living family member and one for each family member's spirit. (Source)

In China the end of the Chinese New Year celebration with the Teng Chieh festival. Animal shaped lanterns are hung in the streets and on houses to scare away evil spirits and light the way for traveling spirits. Family members also honor their dead family members by leaving food and water by their pictures. (Source) (This is obviously not celebrated on October 31st.)

In China there is also a national holiday, Qinming (Tomb Sweeping Day), on April 5 (in non-leap years) where people clean the graves of their family members, ancestors and loved ones and leave food, drinks, and gifts for them. (Source)

In Japan in the summer the Obon festival honors spirits of ancestors. Red lanterns are hung everywhere and each night a fire is lite to guide the spirits back to their place of birth. (Source)

In Mexico El Dia de los Muertos (Day of the Dead) celebrations start the evening of October 31st and last through November 2nd. It is a day to honor the dead and it is believed the dead return to the earth on those days.  (Source)
I'll be honest, El Dia de Los Muertos kind of freaked me out, but recently I read a book about Mexico and the explanation of this celebration made me really understand it better. The skeletons and what not, I do not like, but I do like the idea of honoring the dead loved ones and feeling a connection to them during the celebration each year.

Now let's talk about the holidays that follow Halloween. The Catholic Church named November 1st All Saints Day as a way to counter the whole evil spirit side of Halloween. It is a day to honor all the saints past, present, and future of the world. Through out the year there are days to celebrate individual saints, but this day is to celebrate all of them.

The Catholic Church also named November 2nd, All Souls Day. It is a day to honor all your dead loved ones. This can be done by visiting their graves and decorating them with flowers and wreaths; lighting candles at a church or home in their memory or attending a special mass.

In Portugal people have feasts of wine and chestnuts at the cemetery, and in Mexico people have picnic lunches on the graves of their relatives. (Source: We Celebrate Hallowe'en by Bobbie Kalman, Crabtree Publishing Company, 1985)
Guy Fawkes (Source)

Finally the last holiday to discuss is Guy Fawkes Day. This is a holiday in England which commemorates the day Guy Fawkes was killed. He tried to blow up the parliament and was found guilty for doing it, and sentenced to death. The first Guy Fawkes Day was celebrated shortly after his death. This is celebrated by the lighting of bonfires and fireworks and burning effigies. It is really a celebration of beating the Catholic Church in England. And it was celebrated by the Pilgrims when they arrived to the New World, but as the new country developed the celebrations ended. (Source)

So how do you celebrate Halloween? Do you celebrate any of these other holidays? I'd love to hear about it!


  1. Hope you all stay safe, we will be thinking of you xx

  2. Fun reading all of these traditions from around the world, thanks for sharing them. We always celebrate Halloween as a fun time to be with friends and see neighbors, decorating fun and whimsical instead of scary. :)

    Sending my prayers for you and your family's safety during Hurricane Sandy!

  3. I like the German hiding knives tradition.

  4. Hope you are safe during Sandy!! Love this post. I have been working on a similar post to feature Fall/Harvest/Alternatives to Halloween from around the world for my Ten for Tuesday post this week. I will definitely link to this post!


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