Happy Halloween! Many people celebrate this day, but many may not know the history behind it. Halloween  is a day to mark the single night in the year when, according to old Celtic beliefs, spirits of the dead can cross over into the world of the living to take them back to the underworld. Dressing up as ghosts and ghouls is thought to ‘confuse’ these spirits so they don’t take any humans back with them!

My curiosity lead me to take a peek at how different cultures celebrate Halloween across the world:

halloween pumpkin

Japan – Instead of dressing up their homes, Japanese often dress up as an alter-ego—a popular pastime in the nation where cos-play was invented.

France – trick-or-treating isn’t a huge part of French tradition – there are very mixed feelings on trick-or-treaters showing up at strangers’ houses. The French prefer to celebrate La Toussaint – in honour of their deceased relative and all the saints – on November 1. They visit special church services and place flowers on family graves.

Brazil – there aren’t many pumpkins in Brazil – last year our office manager carved a melon. Instead of making a big deal about Halloween, November 2 is a national holiday: “Dia de Finados” (All Souls Day). There is actually a big movement against Halloween in an attempt to preserve national culture.

Germany – only in certain regions or neighborhoods do German youngsters actually go trick-or-treating (“Süßes oder Saures!”). Germany is more focused on Martinstag (St. Martin’s Day, Martinsmas) on November 11, which includes costumes and a lantern procession for children.

England – as the only Brit in the office, I can confirm that Halloween isn’t a huge deal in the UK either, although it has gained in popularity over the years. We tend to focus more on November 5 which goes by many names: Guy Fawkes night, Bonfire night or Fireworks night. This marks the night in 1605 when a plot to blow up the House of Lords was foiled.

Canada – celebrates Halloween by decorating houses and dressing up in spooky costumes. Canadians are estimated to spend 1 billion dollars on Halloween this year. Research from Statistics Canada reveals that across the nation, Albertans are the biggest overall spenders for Halloween with an average person planning to spend nearly $200.

USA – wins “Halloween fever” hands-down – with costumes and decorations appearing in shops weeks before, with spending in 2017 expected to reach a record $9.1 billion (up from $8.4 billion in 2016).

Halloween is one of the only holidays where we can poke fun at ourselves. We can laugh at things like politics, pop culture, history and death. This is a holiday to be whoever you want to be, break the mold, have fun. So whatever you do this year, be safe and enjoy yourself!