Do you hang spiderwebs from your windows and carve pumpkins with spooky faces? Do you love to dress up head to toe and proudly walk into work? Do you hide in bushes and scare your friends when they come over? Then you may certifiably love Halloween. Halloween is celebrated around the world, but many other festivals occur world-wide and may need to be added to your ‘To Visit’ list. Check out a few of our favorites:
Día de Los Muertos
D´´´´´ía de los Muertos is a three-day festival celebrated in Mexico and throughout Latin America. It is celebrated between October 31st and November 2nd as the days when souls of the dead awaken and return to the living world. Although it shares some traditions with Halloween (such as dressing up and parades) it is a completely distinct holiday and in fact takes on a solemn tone in many places. Oaxaca is particularly famous for their Día de los Muertos festivities. The festival is so famous, in fact, that Disney made a movie about it.
Did you know that Halloween actually traces its origins back to the Celtic festival of Samhain? In fact, there is no mention of Halloween in the United States until after the large influx of Irish immigrants in the 19th century. Marking the end of summer and beginning of winter, Samhain (pronounced ‘sah-win’) was a pagan holiday where it was believed that the walls between the spirit world and human world broke down. Celebrated in Ireland and Scotland, today the celebrations resemble American Halloween, but check out the carnival in Derry or the fireworks in Belfast for some truly special experiences.
The Hungry Ghost Festival
The Hungry Ghost Festival, also known as Zhongyuan Festival (中元節) or Yulan Festival (盂蘭節), is a traditionally Buddhist celebration that is not to be missed. The seventh month of the lunar calendar (August-September) is when spirits return from the other side and mix with the living. On the 15th day (celebrated on the 14th in some places) all realms open and dead ancestors return to their living descendants. Full of its own traditions (and adopting some of the commercialized western celebrations) this traditional celebration involves carnivals, street festivals, and a lot of food.
Guy Fawkes Day
Celebrated on November 5th, this fascinating piece of history comes from the early 1600s in England under the rule of James I. A group of Catholics planned to blow up Parliament and install a pro-Catholic monarch. The plot was found out, all involved were executed or died in resistance, and in 1606 the day was designated a day for thanksgiving. Today it is celebrated with bonfires, fireworks and celebration. Officially a day to celebrate that King James I had survived the attempted assassination, Guy Fawkes is now seen as somewhat of a revolutionary thanks to V for Vendetta (a 1980s graphic novel and 2000s film).
Kawasaki Halloween Parade
Held the last Sunday in October, this rowdy parade has huge floats, amazing costumes and a DJ who spins a free party at the end of the route. The parade begins near the Kawasaki train station and runs for 1.5km near the La Citadella shopping center. The winner of ‘best costume’ walks away with with ¥500,000! The parade has been canceled the last two years due to COVID, but keep an eye out for future parades!
The Village Halloween Parade
We must mention the iconic New York City’s Village Halloween Parade. Every year over 50,000 people dress up and march through downtown New York City on Halloween night. Beginning on Spring Street the parade heads up 6th Avenue and ends on 16th Street. The entire route is lined with revelers in full costumes enjoying the sights and sounds of this iconic New York tradition.
Did we miss any festivals? Tell us in the comments!