02 Oct Unusual Halloween Traditions Around The World
Halloween is quickly approaching which means it’s nearly Christmas – whether that makes you happy or throws you into a panic. To start the celebrations off early, we decided to explore some unusual Halloween traditions from different parts of the world. If you thought it was already a strange holiday, wait until you read these…
Meet Your Soulmate
Halloween actually used to be more romantic than Valentine’s Day, believe it or not. In certain parts of Ireland (believed to be the birthplace of Halloween), people used to celebrate the holiday by playing fortune-telling games where they’d ‘predict’ their future romances. Games included the tradition of ‘barmbrack’, a fruitcake that contains muslin-wrapped treats that predicts the future of the eater. If a cloth held a coin, it means wealth is on the way, if it contained a thimble – you’re doomed to never marry. Because it used to be one of the only celebrations where young people could mingle and meet new people of the opposite sex, it was often considered a good day to keep your eye open for a date and find yourself a sweetheart. This old tradition continued in America for a while, and people used to play games like bobbing for apples to try and find their soulmate.
Snacks For Ghosts
In Austria, they have their own tradition. Families leave bread and water out overnight for the starving souls of any returning dead relatives, as well as a lamp so they can see their food! It’s similar to leaving mince pies out for Santa at Christmas, just much more macabre. A similar tradition is practiced in China, where they get out photos of passed loved ones and lay food and water beside them. In Korea, the Halloween festival ‘Yue Lan’ is actually known as ‘Hungry Ghosts Festival’. They similarly help comfort any lost spirits who might be roaming by burning pictures of money and fruit that they believe will reach the ghost and help them. Spooky!
Dance For Your Treats
Halloween partygoers will probably enjoy this one – you used to actually have to dance for your treats. Experts have traced trick or treating to the European practice of ‘mummying’. This is where people wearing costumes would travel door-to-door and perform dances, songs and skits in exchange for sweets. In earlier versions of trick or treating, men often paraded door to door with beggars following afterwards, wanting coins – although rich kids also joined in eventually. This faded out in the 1930s, but trick or treating started up again to distract kids from pulling Halloween pranks. Probably for the best!
Maybe our traditions aren’t so strange in England after all? Dressing up and partying the night away is as good a tradition as any for us. Although, the jack-o-lanterns that we love carving creative designs into so much actually used to be made out of turnips and beets instead of pumpkins. What’s your favourite unusual Halloween tradition?