Ghosts, Ghouls, & Souls Around the World

Happy Halloween!

Joyeux Halloween !
¡Feliz Halloween!
Sásta Oíche Shamhna!

Samhain / All Hallows Eve

tumblr_inline_nebl9la9yb1s7s0qtWhere it is –Ireland (Birth Place)
How it’s celebrated – In rural areas, bonfires are lit and children dress up in costumes to spend the evening “trick-or-treating” in their neighborhoods, and attend after parties with neighbors and friends playing games such as “snap-apple,” in which an apple on a string is tied to a doorframe or tree, and players attempt to take a bite out of the suspended apple. The Irish celebration of Halloween gives way to all of the things we traditionally know and love.

Dia De Los Muertos/ All Souls Day

tumblr_inline_neblba7It41s7s0qtWhere it is – Mexico / Latin America / Spain
How it’s celebrated – Many families construct and decorate an altar in their home and decorate it with samples of the deceased’s favorite foods and drinks in honor of the dead who are believed to return on Halloween. Graves are also tended to and decorated while candles and incense are burned to help spirits find their way home. Often, a live person is placed inside a coffin and then paraded through the streets while vendors toss fruit, flowers and candies into the casket. The next day relatives gather at the gravesite to picnic and reminisce while enjoying tequila and a mariachi band. In Mexico during the Autumn, countless numbers of Monarch butterflies return to the shelter of Mexico’s oyamel fir trees. It was the belief of the Aztecs that these butterflies bore the spirits of dead ancestors.

Guy Fawkes Night

tumblr_inline_nebldhuMHQ1s7s0qtWhere it is – Great Britain
How it’s celebrated – Due to its proximity to Halloween, many people organize a combined party for Guy Fawkes Night and Halloween. These parties often include elements from both festivals, such as a bonfire and dressing up in spooky outfits. Guy Fawkes, a Catholic, was arrested and executed for his part in the plot to blow up the Houses of Parliament in 1604. Ironically, Guy Fawkes Night is a festival celebrating the plots failure.

La Toussaint / All Souls Day

Where it is– France
How it’s celebrated – Many Christians visit special church services on All Saints’ Day and visit cemeteries to remember their deceased family members and close friends. It is customary to leave chrysanthemums or wreaths of artificial flowers on or close to the graves. Despite the remorse, All Saints’ Day is also an opportunity for many people to spend time with family members and close friends.

Teng Chieh / Lantern Festival

tumblr_inline_neblieFYqQ1s7s0qtWhere it is – China
How it’s celebrated – Food and water are placed in front of photographs of family members who have departed while bonfires and lanterns are lit in order to light the paths of the spirits as they travel the earth on Halloween night. Worshippers in Buddhist temples fashion “boats of the law” from paper which are then burned in the evening hours. The purpose of this custom is in remembrance of the dead and in order to free the spirits so that they might ascend to heaven. Monks are invited to recite sacred verses and offerings of fruit are presented.

Zhong Yuan Jie or Yu Lan Jie/ Hungry Ghost Festival


Where it is –China
How it’s celebrated – It is believed that this is a time when spirits roam the world for twenty-four hours. Some people burn pictures of fruit or money at this time, believing these images would reach the spirit world and bring comfort to the ghosts.

/ All Souls Day

Where it is – Czechoslovakia
How it’s celebrated In Czechoslovakia, chairs are placed by the fireside on Halloween night. There is one chair placed for each living family member and one for each family member’s spirit.

Seleenwoche / All Souls Day

Where it is –Germany / Austria
How it’s celebrated In Germany, people put their knives away. This is done as they do not want to risk hurting the returning spirits

Obon Festival / Japanese Lantern Festival

Where it is –Japantumblr_inline_nebpr5vIVB1s7s0qt
How it’s celebrated – Special foods are prepared and bright red lanterns are hung or set afloat rivers and seas. During the “Obon Festival,” a fire is lit every night in order to show the ancestors where their families might be found. “Obon” is one of the main occasions during the Japanese year when the dead are believed to return to their birthplaces. Tombstones are cleaned and community dances performed.

Jack Achenbach

Jack Achenbach

I am an SLE Storyteller and a culinary nutrition student at Johnson & Wales University who believes that there is no limit to the size of one’s imagination nor the paths one travels. I am a writer, a sucker for a great story. I am chef with a culinary passion. I am an adventurer because I explore what yet I have not seen. I am a dreamer because I dream the impossible dream.

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