Halloween Traditions Around the World
El Dia De Los Muertos
In Mexico, Halloween is celebrated as the Day of the Dead, or ‘El Dia de los Muertos’ in Spanish. It is a festival celebrating mortality whilst remembering family and loved ones who have passed away. The annual festival takes placed between October 31st – a date familiar to the Americans and British – and lasts until November 2nd.
El Dia de los Muertos traditions originated from civilizations which span back as far as 3,000 years. The Aztec celebrations were dedicated to La Calavera Catrina, translated as “Lady of the Dead”. By the 20th century, the Mexicans developed Dia de los Angelitos, translated as “Day of the Little Angels”, where young infants who have died are remembered by their families.
As part of the predominantly Latin American festival, the Latinos believe that the dead would feel insulted by the grief and sadness of their loved ones. Instead, the focus is on the celebration of those activities which the dead cherished in life – such as drinking, eating and partying. The belief is that the dead rise to join the celebrations for two days, and then return to the grave.
For El Dia de los Muertos, revellers wear calacas, and calaveras (skeletons and skulls) as these are the main symbol of the festival. Similarly to Halloween, an array of sweets, dolls and masks are used. Families erect altars for their deceased loved ones, and place a picture of the departed soul for all to see in remembrance.
El Dia de los Muertos costumes take many forms, but general themes include a painted face, emulated a skull. The flamboyant costumes include a wide range of striking colours, and elegant robes with extravagant hats. The celebrations are a spectacle to behold, and we wish all those celebrating El Dia de los Muertos a fantastic time!
Halloween in America
There aren’t any other places in the World which put as much effort and enthusiasm into celebrating mortality than the Americans on Halloween. The carving of the pumpkin is one of the rituals for Americans at Halloween, with people transforming fruit into frightening faces and illuminating them with candles during the night.
The Americans have adopted the custom of celebrating All Hallow’s Eve, which originated in Catholic Europe to mark the beginning of “fall”. Amongst friends and family, people stock up on little treats for a young ones and party into the night.
Similarly to El Dia de los Muertos, Halloween in America consists of dressing up in scary costumes, often influenced from popular culture such as film, or horror novels. Every American has their favourite Halloween costume from years gone by – that Frankenstein costume when your mother helped you glue metal to the side of your head, or that killer costume duo you and your best friend pulled off at a house party. Dressing up is the essence of Halloween, and you’ll see no better place for it than America.
Wander the streets during the evening, or night of Halloween and you’ll be hear the screams from lit up household doorways as young children trick or treat their neighbours with bellies full of sugar, or pockets filled deep. With its infectious energy, you’ll be hard pushed to see a window without a pumpkin, or Halloween decoration in America. If you’re lucky you’ll spot a few severed heads!
Teng Chieh in China
The Chinese festival Teng Chieh, translated as the “Feast of the Hungry Ghosts”, is held with the belief that the living can guide wandering ghosts of dead relatives to food and care. In China, they believe that the spirits of the dead seek recognition and the lighting of bonfires and lanterns can help guide them back to Earth.
Will you be calling friends or family to wish them a happy Halloween, or El dia de los Muertos? You can use DialAbroad to make cheap international calls to Mexico, China, the US or any other one of our 14 countries.