Around the world, Halloween is celebrated differently, if at all. We have lived in five countries and been in several others for this spooky holiday. This is what we experienced:
- Scotland Even though Halloween has its roots as a Celtic festival, it is not a big deal in Scotland. Very few children trick-or-treat. The ones that do, do not just ring a doorbell and expect candy. Instead they actually perform for their treat. For instance, they may tell a joke, recite a poem, or sing a song. It is quite fun. Carving pumpkins is rare. Our Scottish friends grew up carving turnips, which is very hard work. Once, we were even hired by a store to do pumpkin carving demos since it was such a novel activity.
- Thailand Halloween is not a celebration in Thailand. They have other festivals for children and Halloween has not caught on. The one exception is at bars. We have spent a couple Halloweens in Thailand and the only people we saw dressed up were adults going around to pubs. Even then, it is mostly tourists. Khaosan Road, a known backpacker area of Bangkok, goes all out for the event and Thais come there to see what the tourists do for it.
- France The idea of Halloween is a relatively new concept in France. It is considered an American holiday, and thusly looked down upon by many. Still in some areas there are parties and some children go door to door for treats. Although instead of saying trick-o-treat they will say “des bonbons ou un sort,” which means candies or a spell.
- Mexico Mexico may be the best place on the planet to be on October 31st. It is not for Halloween, but for the Day of the Dead celebrations which last several days. Dia de los Muertos is very different from Halloween. It is not about trick-or-treating, but is about remembering the dead and spending time with family. This is a vibrant time to be in Mexico with parades, flower displays, altars with skulls, and more.
- Australia Halloween is also not a big event in Australia. It is considered an American holiday, and therefore celebrated by the increasing number of Aussies that embrace the American culture they see television. On my first visit to Australia on Halloween, I don’t recall even a reference to it. However, fifteen years later, I did see some children dressed up for the event. As in many countries abroad, they believe costumes must be scary, such as witches or ghosts. We tried to explain that any costume works, (e.g. a princess or cat) but, they thought that was wrong. For Australians a Halloween costume must be ghoulish.
- The Netherlands Trick-or-treating is not common in the Netherlands. However, there is an increasing number of parties and scary events throughout the country. They also do not have the tradition of carving pumpkins. I am Dutch by heritage and had the great fun one year of showing my nephew and niece how to carve pumpkins. It was their first time doing it.
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