Halloween is one of the world’s oldest holidays. The holiday is thought to have originated in northern Ireland, but it quickly gained popularity throughout the globe. It’s most popular in the United States and Canada, but is a beloved holiday in other countries as well.
While Americans are accustomed to trick-or-treating, dressing in elaborate costumes and preparing Halloween cupcake recipes, other cultures have developed traditions quite different from what we see in the U.S.
Known as Teng Chieh, Halloween in China is a day to honor the departed. Celebrants place water and food near pictures of family members who have passed away, and they light lanterns to illuminate the way for spirits to descend to earth on Halloween night.
In Japan, celebrants enjoy the Obon Festival, during which red lanterns are lit and set afloat on rivers and seas. The Japanese believe that their ancestors return home during the festival, so they clean memorial stones and perform honorary dances.
In the birthplace of Halloween, the holiday is celebrated similarly to the way it is celebrated in the United States. Children dress up in costumes to go trick-or-treating, and the Irish enjoy a day full of traditions. Once they have collected as much candy as possible, the Irish attend neighborhood gatherings. These parties often feature games like snap-apple, during which the players attempt to take a bite of an apple tied to a tree.
Austrians leave water, bread and a lamp on their tables before they go to bed on Halloween night. They believe that provisions will nourish the dead souls who return to Earth that night.