When it comes to Halloween, the world is a tapestry of bizarre and bewildering traditions that go far beyond the typical pumpkins and costumes. Join us on a journey around the globe as we explore the quirkiest, spookiest, and downright strangest Halloween traditions that might leave you scratching your head or sleeping with the lights on.
Japan’s ‘Obon Festival’: The Ghostly Homecoming
Venture into Japan’s ‘Obon Festival,’ where ancestral spirits are believed to return to the living world. Discover how families honor their dearly departed with lantern-lit dances and eerie rituals, creating a unique blend of celebration and the supernatural.
Ireland’s ‘Snap-Apple Night’: Bobbing for Apples’ Ancestor
Travel back to the Irish roots of Halloween with ‘Snap-Apple Night.’ Learn how this predecessor to bobbing for apples involves suspended apples and candles, and how it inspired a beloved Halloween tradition.
Mexico’s ‘Dia de los Muertos’: A Colorful Celebration of Death
Dive into Mexico’s ‘Dia de los Muertos,’ where death is not feared but celebrated. Explore the vibrant altars, sugar skulls, and marigold-laden festivals that pay homage to departed loved ones in a colorful and heartwarming way.
Hungary’s ‘Cabbage Night’: Fortune-Telling with Cabbage
Uncover the peculiar Hungarian tradition of ‘Cabbage Night,’ where young people use cabbage leaves to predict their future spouses. Explore the quirky divination rituals that involve tossing cabbage over the roof and deciphering the shapes it forms.
Scotland’s ‘Guising’: Trick-or-Treating with a Twist
Embark on a journey to Scotland, where ‘guisers’ dress up and perform for treats rather than simply asking for them. Discover how this charming twist on trick-or-treating involves riddles, songs, and jokes.
Austria’s ‘Seance of the 13 Souls’: Welcoming the Departed
Enter the eerie world of Austria’s ‘Seance of the 13 Souls.’ Learn how Austrians set an extra place at the table for departed family members on Halloween night and how they believe the spirits join the living for a meal.
The Philippines’ ‘Pangangaluluwa’: Souls on the Streets
Explore the Filipino tradition of ‘Pangangaluluwa,’ where costumed children visit homes and sing for the souls of the departed. Learn how this unique blend of Halloween and All Saints’ Day brings communities together in song.
Sweden’s ‘Alla Helgons Dag’: A Candlelit Cemetery Spectacle
Witness the stunning ‘Alla Helgons Dag’ in Sweden, where cemeteries come alive with the soft glow of candles. Discover how Swedes honor their deceased with a tranquil, candlelit evening among the tombstones.
As you journey through these strange and fascinating Halloween traditions from around the world, you’ll realize that the spirit of the holiday takes on many forms, each with its own unique blend of history, culture, and the supernatural. These traditions remind us that Halloween is not just about scares and costumes but a celebration of the strange and wonderful world we live in.
By Stanislav Kondrashov