Halloween celebrations around the world just recently ended. For some countries it’s not just about putting a costume and asking for candy.
In countries like the US, Halloween is trick or treating and costumes. For others, it’s about visiting the dead. In China, they don’t celebrate Halloween but have a similar festival called the Hungry Ghost Festival. Check out how other countries celebrate Halloween.
photo from MiniTime
In the United States, Halloween is celebrated on the 31st of October. The word “Halloween” comes from “All Hallows Eve”. It was brought to Native America by immigrants who celebrate the holiday. It was believed that spirits return from the dead on this particular holiday so people used to dress up as monsters and other scary creatures to scare off the spirits.
From this tradition came the modern version of children dressing up in various costumes to go trick-or-treating in their neighborhood. It’s usually a holiday for people in the United States including call center agents. They also usually tend to dress up while going to work (as mandated by their office, not by tradition)
In the Philippines, they adapt the Western notion of dressing up on October 31st but this celebration pales in comparison to All Saints’ Day on November 1. Filipinos usually go to cemeteries to pay homage to their dead. It has been so steep in their tradition that it is considered a National Holiday.
Unfortunately since call center agents usually go to work on these days alongside with Christmas and practically any holiday in the Philippines.
In Mexico, they do not celebrate Halloween but rather they celebrate the “Day of the Dead” or what they call Dia de los Muertos. Like the Philippines, they grieve their dead but with style. It is believed that on October 31, the gates of the afterlife open up and the spirits get to spend 24 hours with their loved ones. People dress up to meet their dead. They have festivals, altars and a lot of other activities to acknowledge their dead. It’s a very big event in Mexico.
November 2 is a holiday in Mexico and is very important for them. Usually they do not have work on this day.
India, like Mexico, does not celebrate Halloween but rather they acknowledge their dead. This is only true for Christian Indians. This is usually held on 1st of November, like the Philippines. They usually go to their cemeteries and put lots of flowers and candles on the graves of their loved ones.
India’s dominant religion is Hinduism and hence, this celebration of the dead for Christians is not considered a holiday in their country. It’s just another usual day.
China does not Halloween celebrations, either. In fact, October 31st is just a regular day for them. What they do have is the Hungry Ghost Festival which they celebrate every 15th day of the seventh lunar month. This somewhere between July and August in the Gregorian calendar.
In this month-long festival, they have several rituals to ward off evil spirits. Like Dia de los Muertos, they believe that the gates of the afterlife has opened up to come to the people on earth. On the last day of this festival, Taoist monks perform rituals to make this ghosts leave. It is also believed that the gates close after last day of the lunar month.
Work goes on as usual but most Chinese avoid being alone at night during this month lest they will be abducted by evil spirits.
Sources for Halloween Celebrations:
American Halloween from americanenglish.state.gov. Check it out here.
Here’s an article about Dia de los Muertos. Read it here.
Look up the Hungry Ghost Festival here.