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7 Spooky Halloween Traditions Around the World 

7 Spooky Halloween Traditions Around the World 

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Want to learn more about countries that celebrate Halloween? Keep scrolling to find out some spooky Halloween traditions around the world!
This post about Halloween traditions around the world was written by family travel expert Marcie Cheung and may contain affiliate links, which means if you click on the link and purchase the item, I will receive an affiliate commission at no extra cost to you. All opinions remain my own.

Wondering how people in other countries celebrate Halloween?

We’ve got you covered! From Mexico to China, we’ve compiled a list of the most interesting and unique Halloween traditions from around the world. Spoiler alert – some of these traditions are pretty spooky!

Halloween is fast approaching, and while here in the United States we celebrate with parties, trick or treating, scary movies, and haunted houses, that is not how everyone celebrates this spooky season.

Keep reading if you’re looking for a little bit of Halloween inspiration (or just some good old-fashioned creepiness). You won’t want to miss out on these eerie traditions from all over the globe.

Spooky Halloween Celebrations Around the World

Dia de Los Muertos: Mexico

Chances are you have heard of Dia de Los Muertos or the Day of the Dead before. This traditional Mexican celebration takes place each year on November 1 and 2nd.

Aztec skulls Mexican Day of the Dead colorful handcrafts
Celebrate Dia de los Muertos in Mexico.

Whether you are in a major city or a small town in Mexico, some traditions are the same. There are parades, lots of beautiful costumes, and brightly colored face paint, singing, and dancing.

Participants in Dia de Los Muertos build temporary altars to pay tribute to their deceased ancestors.

The altars are filled with photographs of the deceased, flowers, food including sugar skulls with the deceased’s name on them, and tequila to encourage the spirits of the dead to join with the living relatives for the celebration. 

Check out the cutest Dia de Los Muertos children’s books, best Day of the Dead crafts and activities, and sugar skull craft tutorial!

La Toussaint: France 

Halloween is celebrated in France to some extent, but nothing like the American version of it.

However, in France, they do celebrate La Toussaint or All Saint’s Day on November 1st. The day is a national holiday in France and it is a day of remembrance for loved ones who have died.

Image of candles on a grave for All Saints Day in France.
France celebrates All Saint’s Day.

The French people visit the cemeteries of their loved ones and place chrysanthemums at the graves, it is a day where families gather together and reminisce about family members who have passed. 

Zhongyuan Festival: China

In China, they celebrate Zhongyuan Festival or the Ghost Festival. The festival is celebrated in China on the 15th day of the seventh month of the Lunar calendar each year.

Zhongyuan Festival in China. Image of floating lanterns on a river at night.
Zhongyuan Festival in China.

During this 14-day celebration, the Chinese people honor their dead loved ones. It is believed that during this timeframe, ghosts from heaven and hell are allowed to roam the Earth.

Special ceremonies keep the ancestral ghosts from getting angry, and food is left for them to enjoy.

There are ceremonies where people burn paper money, clothing, pictures of luxurious items, and incense so the ghosts can use them in the afterlife after the festival. 

Samhain, All Hallows Eve: Ireland

The celebration of Halloween, or at the time Samhain, originated from the Celtic people of Ireland. Many American Halloween traditions have actually been passed down by the Irish.

Image of an old cemetery in Ireland
The Irish celebrate Samhain.

The Celts believed that Samhain was the one day of the year when spirits of the dead (both good and bad) could walk the Earth.

Costumes were worn in the hopes that they would be disguised enough to trick the devils and spirits into thinking they were also devils and spirits so they wouldn’t be carried away.

Jack o’Lanterns are Irish

Jack o’lanterns is another Irish tradition that we associate with Halloween in America.

According to Irish folklore Jack, an Irish blacksmith colluded with the devil and was denied entrance to Heaven. Instead, he was condemned to walk the Earth forever but he asked the devil for some light.

He was given a burning coal ember that he placed inside of a turnip that he had gouged out and wandered the Earth. The Irish would place a lantern in their window to keep the damned soul away.

Best Halloween Vacations and Getaways for Families featured by top US family travel blogger, Marcie in Mommyland: Sleepy Hollow is a popular Halloween vacation destination in the United States.
Scary Jack O’Lantern from Sleep Hollow, New York during Halloween.

When the Irish emigrated to America in large numbers during and after the Irish potato famine, the tradition continued, but with pumpkins, because turnips were not as readily available. 

Bobbing for Apples

Bobbing for apples is another Halloween tradition that originated in Ireland! A basin is filled with water with apples floating on the top and participants have to bob for the apples using only their mouths to retrieve one.

Folklore says that the first to bite an apple will be the first to get married and that if you sleep with the apple under your pillow you will dream about your future spouse. 

Kawasaki Halloween Parade: Japan

Halloween in Japan is not celebrated by trick or treating or pumpkin carving, instead, it is mainly celebrated through street parties and costume parades.

Tokyo Disney land  Halloween festival : 24 OCTOBER 2017 : LOCATION 1-1 Maihama, Urayasu, Chiba Prefecture 279-0031, Japan
Halloweentime at Tokyo Disneyland.

Halloween was not really celebrated at all in Japan, until the year 2000, when Tokyo Disneyland, hosted its first Halloween celebration.

The street parties are not really for children, but rather for adults who enjoy dressing up in costumes and drinking with their friends.

However, some of these events are beginning to have more of a family-friendly atmosphere as the popularity of the holiday grows in the country. 

Tokyo Disneyland and Universal Studios Japan continue to host family-friendly Halloween events each year, with costumes, decorations, parades, and special spooky treats!

It will be interesting to see how Halloween celebrations grow in Japan over the next few years! 

Barriletes Gigantes, Giant Kites Festival, Guatemala

In the Guatemalan cities of Santiago Sacatepéquez and Sumpango, on November 1 and 2 you will see big beautiful kites soaring in the sky, to commemorate the All Saints Day celebrations.

Barriletes Gigantes in Guatemala
Barriletes Gigantes in Guatemala.

Some of these brightly colored hand-crafted kites are more than 65 feet wide! The kites are made with bamboo, cloth, and paper, and are hand-painted by groups of young people months before the celebration begins. 

The kite festival is just one part of the celebration of the dead in Guatemala, families also spend the day at the cemeteries cleaning gravestones, and leaving flowers and brightly colored wreaths to honor the dead while enjoying a meal together. 

Halloween, North America

In the United States and Canada, Halloween is celebrated with carved pumpkins, costumes, scary movies, haunted houses, trick-or-treating, parades, and parties!

Get some easy Disney Halloween party ideas from top Seattle blog Marcie in Mommyland. Image of two girls dressed in Halloween costumes with jack-o-lanterns in front of them
Kids and adults love celebrating Halloween in the United States.

People of all ages celebrate the holiday, and even decorate their yards, just as you would for Christmas, except they use Halloween spiders and other ghoulish decorations of course.

If you find yourself heading out to a restaurant, grocery store, or even the doctor’s office chances are you will encounter children and adults in costumes, after all, it’s the one day a year where you can dress up like anything you want! 

Halloween in Different Countries FAQs

What countries celebrate Halloween?

Halloween is celebrated in numerous countries, including the United States, Canada, Ireland, the United Kingdom, Australia, and parts of Western Europe and Asia.

How many countries celebrate Halloween?

While Halloween originates from ancient Celtic traditions and is most popular in countries such as the U.S., Ireland, and Canada, it has gained some presence in many countries worldwide; an exact number is difficult as the celebration can vary from full-scale festivities to minor observances.

Do they celebrate Halloween in Japan?

Yes, Halloween is celebrated in Japan, mainly as a commercial and social event with parades, costumes, and parties.

Do they celebrate Halloween in Thailand?

Halloween is not a traditional festival in Thailand, but it has gained popularity in urban areas, with themed events and parties, especially in places frequented by tourists and expatriates.

Do they celebrate Halloween in Canada?

Yes, Halloween is widely celebrated in Canada with costumes, trick-or-treating, and other festivities.

What are some Halloween traditions?

Some common Halloween traditions include trick-or-treating, carving pumpkins, wearing costumes, hosting parties, and telling spooky stories.

What are some French Halloween traditions?

While Halloween is less traditional in France, it has gained popularity, with costumes, parties, and decorations.

However, the day after Halloween, All Saints’ Day (“La Toussaint”), is a public holiday where families place flowers on the graves of loved ones.

What are some Mexico Halloween traditions?

In Mexico, the end of October and start of November are marked by the “Día de los Muertos” or “Day of the Dead”.

This is a traditional festival that celebrates and honors deceased loved ones with altars, food, sugar skulls, and marigolds rather than the typical Halloween traditions.

Halloween Celebrated Around the World Wrap-Up

It is interesting to see how Halloween is celebrated around the world with varying traditions, and sometimes even different dates.

Which of these Halloween traditions would you most like to participate in if given the chance? Do you have any other Halloween traditions from around the world to share? 

Looking for more Halloween content? Check out my favorite Halloween joke books, Disney Halloween party ideas, Disney Halloween movies, and non-candy Halloween treats!

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