Halloween is just days away, and people around the nation (and around the world) are excitedly preparing their costumes, carving their pumpkins, and stocking up on sweets. But for many countries, Halloween isn’t a time of trick-or-treating, scary movies, and gorging on sugary treats – for some, it’s a time of mourning the dead and communicating with spirits.
So grab the popcorn and join us as we discover some of the spookiest Halloween traditions from around the globe!
1. Mexico – Day of the Dead
Over Halloween and into the first two days of November, people throughout Latin America (particularly Mexico) celebrate Día de Muertos – Day of the Dead. It’s believed that this is the time of year during which the Gates of Heaven are opened and the souls of the deceased return to the Earth to be reunited with their loved ones. Families traditionally prepare an altar in their home filled with food and alcohol as offerings to the spirits, while toys and lollies are left for the souls of lost children.
2. Italy – Ognissanti
All Saints’ Day, a Christian festival celebrated on November 1 (the day after Halloween and the day before All Souls’ Day), has a special significance in Italy, where it’s known as Ognissanti. Every year, in the last few days of October and into early November, Italians flock to cemeteries to leave flowers (usually chrysanthemums) on the graves of lost loved ones and even strangers, creating beautiful fields of colour in the usually dark and depressing sites. They also leave red candles in the windows at sunset and set a place at the dinner table, hoping their dearly departed will return once more.