Wednesday, October 28, 2020

Odd Halloween Traditions

For the most part, Halloween in the United States consist of trick or treating, parties, and having a great time but other countries have unique ways of celebrating Halloween.  I thought I'd share a few since they are quite different than what we are used to.  

For instance, in  Germany, people tend to hide all the knives in the house on Halloween because they want the dead who return to be safe.  In northern Spain, they love carving pumpkins, celebrating with costumes and parties but what sets them apart is that they drink a local alcohol out of the pumpkin after they've decided a spell to protect them against evil.  

In Italy where they celebrate their own version of the Day of the Dead, they create these wonderful Fave di Morti which are Fava bean shaped sugar cookies.  This comes from a belief that the dead souls are found in Fava beans so the beans are the link between the living and the dead.  So when you eat a cookie, you are able to talk to the dead.

In another region of Spain, people celebrate with roasted chestnuts, sweet potatoes, and small almond cookies while drinking a traditional sweet wine.  This particular celebration and menu comes from years of people staying up all night on October 31st to celebrate the dead.  On the other hand, they celebrate the day in Barcelona with a ghostly scavenger hunt in the gothic quarter.  For this, people fly in from all over the world, wear costumes, follow maps, drink, all while enjoying the history of the place. 

Then in the Czech Republic, people place chairs around fire places.  They place one chair for each living member of the family and one for each member who has passed. Of course, in France, Halloween is not a traditional celebration but they've embraced it anyway and when they dress up in costumes, they choose to be vampires, ghouls, and other creepy characters.  

Some Asian countries have started celebrating Halloween but not in the normal ways.  In Hong Kong, they use the day to advertise theme parks such as Disneyland and many stores use the holiday to decorate stores and shopping centers to create a spooky ambiance.  On the other hand, one or two places in Japan have recently started hosting a parade and after 23 years it is a huge success.

In Norway, people love visiting places with a history of being haunted such as the Nidaros Cathedral which is said to be haunted by a dead monk or the Akershus Fortress which is said to be protected by a demon bred dog who had been buried alive there.  At another church in the area, people say there is something strange about the church because it causes headlamps to quit working.

In Nepal, they have Gai Jatra which is also known as the festival of cows in addition to a festival of the dead.  People place head dresses and other decorations on the cows and the cows then lead a parade filled with people who have lost a loved one during the previous year.  It is believe that cows help those who passed on get to heaven. 

On the other hand, in Haiti they paint their faces to resemble skulls to mimic the dead and people take spiced alcohol to relatives buried in cemeteries.  Finally, in Cambodia they have a festival to remember the dead involving water buffalo races and ending with the monks chanting all night to signal the opening of the gates of hell.

I don't celebrate like most people. I have candy for those children who come by but I usually remember those who passed and pray for their souls.  Let me know what you think, I'd love to hear.  

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