year on the 31st of October, people all around the United States celebrate
Halloween, the one day of the year when everyone plays dress up and has fun
with any number of activities that take place on this day; such as
trick-or-treating for the smaller children, haunted houses for older teens and
parties for the adults. It’s a celebration of all things scary that can lurk in
the dark and has served as inspiration for music, books and movies throughout
popular culture for many years. But Halloween isn’t just celebrated in the USA,
but all over the world. Here’s a brief look at some of the ways that other
countries celebrate this holiday.
Mexico, Halloween is known as El Dia De Los Muertos, a celebration
dedicated to remembering and honoring our loved ones who are dead. In the U.S.,
however, this is a happy celebration that lasts three days (October 31st through
November 2nd) in which it is believed that the undead can come back and
be with their living loved ones. During these three days, families will often
create altars filled with gifts for their dead, such as candies, flowers,
photographs, letters, food and water. They’ll also clean their gravestones and
leave gifts as well. Another tradition includes people dressing up in
elaborate costumes that resemble skeletons and taking part in parades that
feature music, food, dancing and other activities.
China, people don't celebrate Halloween itself. Instead, they host Teng Chieh,
a festival dedicated to helping the spirits as they travel from the earth and into
heaven. During Teng Chieh, worshippers in Buddhists temples use paper to create
Boats of the Law, which are normally a red lantern fashioned in a variety of
sizes that are later burned during the night hours. The purpose of this ritual
is to both remember and honor the dead, and to free the spirits of the
preta, which are people who died in accidents like fires or drownings,
since their bodies were never buried. The belief is that this ritual helps them
ascend to heaven.
to the Chinese tradition of Teng Chieh, the Japanese don't celebrate Halloween
per se; they do however celebrate the weeklong Obon Festival, which takes
place in August and July, known also as Matsuri or Urabon. During this festival
special foods are prepared, bright red lanterns are hung in peoples’ homes and
streets, and candles are lit and set to float in rivers, lakes or other natural
bodies of water. The purpose of this tradition is to help the spirits find
their way to their families. It’s at this time of year that the dead are
believed to return to earth. During this time, people also clean memorial
stones and preform community dances to entertain and honor their ancestors.
Gabriela Morales is a Freshman Creative Writing student at Christian Brothers University and a staff writer at the Galleon
The Galleon is curated and managed by Christian Brothers University, a Memphis-based university founded in the Lasallian tradition (a sect within the Catholic faith). Part of our founding mission is to uphold respect for all persons-regardless of political, religious, or social beliefs. As an institution, we take no stand on political matters; to do so would undermine our commitment to intellectual inquiry and thoughtful response to events taking place in our World by members of the CBU community.