Halloween. Just the word brings a flood of images and feelings into the minds of many, and yet those images and feelings are different all around the world. Some of them, you would be hard pressed to believe. But where did it all start? Surprisingly, Ireland. Irish people still celebrate halloween much like we do, however, like all countries, it has it’s specialties. Irish halloween consists of lighting huge bonfires in rural areas, and children trick or treating all around their neighborhoods. A popular halloween game in Ireland is called “Snap-Apple” which is played by taking turns trying to bite at an apple hanging from the ceiling or a doorframe. Another Irish halloween game involves revealing prizes on a table covered by cards. Ireland, the birthplace of such atrocities as the “Sexy Ebola Nurse” costume (http://d.ibtimes.co.uk/en/full/1406706/sexy-ebola-nurse-containment-suit-costume-currently-being-sold-brandsforsale-com.jpg), who would have thought?
Ireland isn’t the only place that does Halloween a little different, however. For example, in Austria, people want to bring deceased souls to their houses, and to entice them they place candles, bread, and water at their doorsteps. The Chinese also hold a very different concept of Halloween than we do. The Halloween festival in China is called “Teng Chieh” and is very symbolic. It is a time of mourning, of remembering those who have been lost. Ceremonies are carried out through urban areas, many of which include burning ceremonial boats, and reciting sacred verses. When Halloween came to England though, it was definitely a different story. An old English custom which used to be practiced by children might sound familiar, as it is essentially pumpkin carving, but with beets! A beet carving is called a “Punkie” and would be carried around by children while they roam the streets of England asking door to door for money. In Germany, Halloween is a celebration of peace. All weapons and tools that could harm anyone are stowed away, both as an act of peace and as a precaution as to not anger or harm any passing spirits in one’s home. And how could we talk about spirits and Halloween without mentioning the Spanish Halloween, “El Dia de los Muertos”? Many people have heard of the “Day of the Dead”, and it certainly is an important event in Spanish-speaking countries. The festivities are extremely happy and positive, and people celebrate their families, and they happily remember those who have died. It is believed that the dead return to their homes on Halloween during El Dia de los Muertos, so many homes have small sorts of shrines built to entice lost souls to return to the home. These shrines may include photos, candy, and some of the deceased’s favorite foods, items, or pictures. People parade through the streets dressed as skeletons and sing, happy and together as friends. Makes our Halloween sound pretty simple, huh? It seems that everyone has their own way, but no matter where you live, everyone looks forward to Halloween each year.