Halloween around the world

During the month of October, many Americans have Halloween on their minds. The
candy, decorations and a hint of darkness make this holiday have massive appeal
in both America and Canada. But what about other countries, do they celebrate this
holiday of tricks and treats?

Ireland is believed to be the birthplace of Halloween with many familiar traditions
such as trick-or-treating for candy, bobbing for apples and even playing pranks on
neighbors.

Halloween in many countries is celebrated as a way to honor the spirits of those
long gone. Countries such as Belgium, China, Japan and Korea set out food and light
candles to honor their dead ancestors.

Many countries believe spirits return for one or several nights during Halloween. In
Germany, they put all the knives away in the house so they don’t harm returning
spirits.

Some people in Austria leave bread, water and a lit lamp on the table at night to
welcome the returning spirits to Earth.

In Hong Kong, the people burn pictures of fruit or money, hoping the images would
reach the ghosts and comfort them when they returned to Earth for twenty-four
hours.

Many people also seem to become more paranoid and superstitious around October.
In America, as well as in Belgium, a black cat crossing your path is considered
unlucky.

In the Czech Republic, families will put one chair by the fireplace for each member of
the household to bring good luck in the upcoming year.

Fireplaces seem to be a common theme in celebrating Halloween because in
England, children throw pebbles and nuts into a fireplace, which will determine
their luck in the upcoming year.

Of course not all countries celebrate this holiday as we do. The holiday in Sweden is
known as “Alla Helgons Dag”, or “All Saint’s Day” and is celebrated from October 31st
to November 6th with a shortened school day on the Friday prior to Alla Helgons Dag.

Some countries are only just discovering the holiday through American culture.
France does not celebrate Halloween to honor dead spirits and departed ancestors.

In France, Halloween was unknown until around 1996 and is still considered an “American
Holiday.”

No matter where you are this October, Halloween can be celebrated virtually
anywhere. Just remember to put away your knives; don your best costume and
avoid those black cats, the celebration has only begun!

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