Grace Baek/ Portola High 9th
October 31st is a very special day. It is the only day of the year where you can knock on a stranger’s door dressed as possibly anything you can ever imagine, screaming “Trick or Treat” that translates to a not-so-secret code language: give me candy, without being labeled as insane lunatic. It is the only day of the year where children are allowed to sleep just a few hours past their bedtime and have maybe one or two more pieces of candy than usual. As all children of the world scamper onto the streets, glow sticks, street lamps, and house decorations light the monochrome darkness, creating a radiant luminescence, but not enough to brighten up the night sky. Streets bustle with laughter and voices, a rare occasion for a 9:00 pm night. In other words, Halloween.
Originated in Ireland, Halloween has spread to many differents parts of the world in approximately 2,000 years. Through the evolution, each country has altered the original Halloween custom to fit their own. In what different ways is Halloween celebrated around the world?
1. United States -Most Americans, including children and adults, celebrate Halloween by transforming into princesses, ghosts, witches, vampires, superheros, and pirates. With anticipation to stuff their pillowcases with candy, they go around door-to-door, ringing the doorbell and saying “Trick or Treat”. Each household typically prepares a bag of candy or a put a sign at their door in order to prevent a series of constant doorbell attacks. Tracy Chen, a high schooler from Irvine, claims that her school also celebrates Halloween by “dressing up in costumes”. Other common activities include pumpkin carving and house decorating.
2. Mexico- Halloween is relatively a small event in Mexico. Though children get their fun size candies, it is not considered significant. Mexicans more rather put the emphasis on Dia de Los Muertos, which overlaps with Halloween and is celebrated on a much larger scale. With the purpose of honoring their deceased ancestors who return to their home on this day, families build an altar to the dead in their homes, then decorate it with flowers, photographs, foods, and drinks. They also burn candles to help the souls find their way home. As a festive event, dancing, singing, and fireworks take place in the streets.
3. Ireland- The Halloween that we know today has originated from the Celtic pagan festival in Ireland called “Samhain”, which means “end of summer”. Because the Celts divided the year into two seasons, the light and the dark, Samhain was an important festival that marked the beginning of a new cycle. Although Samhain is on November 1st, celebrations usually take place starting the night before, which is why Halloween is on October 31st. The Irish believed that spirits could walk the Earth this day; therefore, communities would make a bonfire to stop the bad fortune and evil spirits from coming in. Then, they would gather around the bonfire, dressed as animal skins, heads, or dead spirits. This way, they believed that if the evil spirits bumped into one of the Celts, they would think they were spirits themselves and let them free. The idea of costumes originated from this. Additionally, jack-o-lantern carving was also part of the Ireland tradition. After the bonfire, people would hollow out a turnip so they could walk home with the fire still burning.
4. Japan- Japan first adopted the Western holiday when Tokyo Disneyland hosted Halloween events for the first time in 2000. However, one significant difference is that in Japan, trick or treating is not part of their tradition. Unlike most countries, Halloween in Japan is dedicated for mostly adults who want to dress in costumes. During the month of August, Japanese people visit haunted houses and tell spooky stories. Then, during the months of September and October, street parties, parades, flash mobs, zombie runs, and costume parties at bars take place at special locations such as amusement parks, while stores and restaurants sell colorful decorations and desserts.
<Grace Baek/ Portola High 9th