Halloween Traditions From Around the Globe

Whilst Halloween is popular for us in the UK, and with our American neighbours, did you ever wonder whether it was as popular elsewhere? Read on for our guide to the most haunted festivities around the globe.

China

China doesn’t tend to celebrate Halloween like we do, however, on the 14th night of the 7th Lunar month in the rotating Chinese calendar the Hungry Ghost Festival (or Yulan Festival or Teng Chieh as it’s traditionally called) takes place.

The Hungry Ghost festival signifies the opening of the gates of the spirit realm, permitting restless spirits to walk the earth and has been celebrated for over 100 years. Many Chinese people believe that the spirits need to be appeased in order for them to pass by them in peace, so offerings such as food and drink is left out for the ghosts. Some believe that their ancestors and passed loved ones come back to check on their families, so offerings are left out for them too, along with shrines or memorials in their honour.

On the streets, along the roadside you’ll see bonfires or incense burning and people burning offerings or fake money for their passed loved ones to use in the afterlife. Bamboo stages are erected in main towns such as Zhongyuan and Hong Kong, or in local parks where performances such as Opera, traditional customs and short plays take place to praise those who have donated to the ghosts of the afterlife, and who are charitable with their deeds. It’s certainly something to experience, and next year’s festival will be held on 22nd August.

A typical offering during the Hungry Ghost Festival

China is a land of many wonders – ancient and modern, natural and man-made. This hugely popular tour is a comprehensive journey through China’s most iconic sights from the magnificent Great Wall to the mighty Yangtze River.


Vietnam

Halloween may be a recent introduction to Vietnam but it’s becoming bigger and bigger each year. Locals flock to De Tham street in Ho Chi Minh City or Tam Trinh Building in Hanoi for the biggest street party of the year on 31st October. Unlike our chilly autumn nights Vietnam is toasty at this time of year so costumes tend to be on the lighter side, and parties held in the open air.

Just as in China Vietnam follows many of the same rituals of the Hungry Ghost festival with feasts for ancestors and offerings to appease the evil spirits that are said to be roaming.

Hungry Ghost offerings

Embark on a glorious adventure, starting amongst the magnificence of the temples of Angkor before boarding a three-night deluxe river cruise down the Mekong. With shore excursions designed to give you an authentic glimpse of local life, cross into Vietnam to discover its many treasures. Explore vibrant Saigon, charming Hoi An and historic Hanoi and sail the waters of Halong Bay.


India

Halloween is becoming more and more common in India as newer generations of Indian parents have been exposed to westernised culture, TV programmes and ideals. Children dress up in handmade costumes and seek treats in return, but it’s seen more as a recognition towards westernism than the celebration of all saint’s day.

In very rare occasions Halloween falls on the same weekend as Diwali, so many clubs and bars are holding events to celebrate both.


On this classic tour, you will have the chance to experience different sides of Indian culture; from the contrasts of Old and New Delhi, to the historic city of Agra, trying to spot the tigers in Ranthambore and exploring the beautiful palaces and architecture of Jaipur.


Japan

In August, Japan celebrates ‘Obon’ which is when it’s believed that ancestors come back to life in spirit form and walk the earth and visit their relatives. Obon is held on the 13th – 15th day of the 7th month of the year in line with the Japanese solar calendar. During this time pop-up haunted houses are erected (and believe us they are terrifying!) as well as organised trips for people to attend ‘Haunted Camps’ and share ghost stories across the campfire. Stories of ‘Yurei’ are told, Yurei are Japanese Ghosts that get stuck between the physical world and the afterlife.

During this time lanterns are hung from houses; families visit their loved one’s graves and food or offerings are left out for their ancestors to use in the afterlife. Obon dances (called Bon Odori) are performed as part of a parade as well as lanterns put into lakes, rivers or the sea in order to guide the spirits back into their world.

Bringing us back inline with the UK’s celebrations of Halloween, Shibuya in Tokyo, is becoming well known for its epic Halloween street party, which takes place from 27th Oct – 31st October. Entrance and participation is free, as long as you are in costume, however there is a charge for food and drink purchased. With over 70,000 people in attendance it’s been labelled as the ‘Worlds Greatest Halloween party’ by many publications and bloggers.

Japanese teen preparing for Shibuya Halloween Party

Our most extensive tour of Japan includes all the classic sights and key cultural activities. Featuring modern cities, historical sights and beautiful landscapes, Japan Uncovered ensures you get the most out of your trip to this fascinating land.


Brazil

Brazil celebrates ‘Finados’ (Day of the Dead) on November 2nd. Parades take place and music is played in the larger cities such as Rio de Janiero, however this holiday has a much deeper meaning to Brazilians, and many choose to celebrate quietly and intimately with family.  People often go to church or cemeteries with flowers, candles and prayers to remember loved ones that have passed.

Public group prayers, candle lighting ceremonies and processions take place and it’s common to see people taking part in these activities wearing their finest clothes, and shouting the names of the Patron Saints as they walk. Outside or inside houses and dotted along pavements you’ll see Atars, which are small shrines created in memory of passed loved ones. 

Day of the Dead in Brazil

This tour of South America will take you on an unforgettable journey through the highlights of this fantastic continent. Embark on the journey of a lifetime, visiting Machu Picchu, the Sacred Valley, Buenos Aires, Iguazu Falls, Rio de Janeiro and more.


Happy Halloween!

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