Halloween Traditions, Celebrations Around the World

by Amanda Mallory

Costumes, trick-or-treating, pumpkin carving, spooky decorations: these are probably some of the things you envision when you think about Halloween. But how do people celebrate this holiday around the world?

Amanda Mallory

You might be surprised by the similarities and differences between Halloween in the U.S. and in other countries. Here are just a few countries’ takes on this holiday:

Ireland: Where Halloween Began

Ireland is considered to be the place where Halloween originated, and the holiday was initially celebrated to mark the end of summer and beginning of winter. Today, the Irish celebrate Halloween much like we do in the States, with fun (and sometimes scary) costumes, trick-or-treating, and games and activities. In Dublin, Ireland’s capital city, there is an annual parade that ends with a spooky carnival.

Mexico: Día de los Muertos

While many children celebrate Halloween in Mexico with costumes and candy, the bigger celebration during this time is Día de los Muertos (Day of the Dead). Día de los Muertos takes place on November 1 and 2. It combines ancient Aztec rituals with Catholic traditions for an exciting celebration of life.

While the decorations for this holiday usually involve skulls and skeletons, Día de los Muertos is not meant to be scary. The skulls and skeletons are usually portrayed in a happy, silly manner. During this holiday, families remember loved ones who have passed away by decorating their tombstones and setting up ofrendas (offerings), which are usually tables topped with pictures of loved ones along with candles, flowers, and some of their favorites foods.

Czech Republic: Remembering Loved Ones

Children in the Czech Republic do not wear costumes or go trick-or-treating, but families place chairs around the fireplace on Halloween night – one for each living family member and one for each family member who has passed away. On November 2, many families visit the graves of their loved ones and decorate them with candles and flowers.

In October, the Czech supermarkets are stocked with outdoor votive candles instead of candy, and on November 2, you can drive by the cemeteries and see a sea of flickering lights!

The Philippines: Pangagaluluwa

Pangagaluluwa, the Filipino version of Halloween, is similar to other Halloween celebrations in the U.S. and abroad. Like in many other countries, the Filipino people spend November 1 and 2 remembering loved ones who have passed away. Filipino children also have a tradition similar to trick-or-treating, but instead of saying “Trick or Treat,” children go from house to house singing special songs in exchange for candy, money or other treats!

There are so many unique ways that Halloween is celebrated around the world, and I hope you enjoyed learning about just a few of them. Happy Halloween!

Amanda Mallory joined the CMDS family in 2014. She teaches Global Preschool Studies to CMDS Early Childhood students and Spanish to CMDS Grade School students. Visit her classroom website, Around the World in 180 Dias.

Christ Methodist Day School opened its doors in 1958 to 75 kindergarten students. Since then, CMDS has stayed true to its Christian elementary school roots while continuing to thrive as one of the best private schools in Memphis. Come see why we are the primary choice for so many Memphis families.


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