Halloween is an incredibly popular holiday in the United States but many people don’t know that other countries celebrate it as well. Other than the US, the holiday is extremely popular in Canada, the United Kingdom, and Ireland. Halloween’s popularity has been slowly spreading to other parts of the world too, and its celebration has been observed in many other countries to varying degrees. Some countries have adopted the tradition of trick-or-treating, costume parties, and decorating homes with spooky themes, while others have embraced the more commercial aspects of Halloween, such as themed merchandise and decorations, without fully engaging in traditional activities.
Read below for Halloween holiday traditions in the United States, Canada, the United Kingdom, and Ireland.
How is Halloween celebrated in the United States and Canada?
In Canada, Halloween is celebrated with enthusiasm and in similar ways to how it is celebrated in the United States. Canadians of all ages enjoy participating in various Halloween traditions and activities. Here are some ways Halloween is celebrated in both the United States and Canada:
- Trick-or-Treating: Children dress up in costumes and go trick-or-treating in their neighborhoods. They visit houses, saying “Trick or treat!” and receive candies or treats from the homes that are prepared for these visitors.
- Costume Parties: Halloween costume parties are a popular way for people of all ages to celebrate. Whether it’s at schools, community centers, or private gatherings, dressing up in creative and spooky costumes is a significant part of the celebration.
- Haunted Houses and Attractions: Many cities and communities set up haunted houses and spooky attractions during the Halloween season. These haunted houses are designed to give visitors a thrilling and scary experience, often complete with actors, special effects, and spooky decorations.
- Pumpkin Carving: Pumpkin carving is a cherished tradition during Halloween. Families and friends come together to carve intricate designs or funny faces on pumpkins, which are then displayed on porches and windowsills.
- Halloween Decorations: People enjoy decorating their homes, yards, and businesses with Halloween-themed decorations such as spider webs, skeletons, witches, ghosts, and various other spooky props.
- Halloween Events and Festivals: Many communities organize Halloween events and festivals that include costume contests, parades, pumpkin festivals, and other themed activities.
- Candy and Treats: Besides giving out candies to trick-or-treaters, some families also organize small Halloween parties at home, where they share treats, snacks, and desserts with friends and family.
How is Halloween celebrated in the United Kingdom?
Halloween celebrations in the UK are similar to the US and Canada except for one difference, on the 5th of November they celebrate a holiday called Guy Fawkes Night or Bonfire Night. This holiday falls on November 5th. While separate from Halloween, the two occasions are often linked due to their proximity to one another. Guy Fawkes Night/Bonfire Night commemorates the failed Gunpowder Plot of 1605, and it is celebrated with fireworks displays, bonfires, and the burning of effigies of Guy Fawkes.
How is Halloween celebrated in Ireland?
Halloween has its origins in Ireland, where it was known as Samhain (pronounced “sow-in”), an ancient Celtic festival. Halloween holds a special significance in Irish culture and is celebrated in various ways throughout the country. Many Irish traditions were adopted in the United States such as Costumes, Trick-or-Treating, Festivals, and Pumpkin Carving (to name a few). Here are some common ways Halloween is celebrated in Ireland that differ from how it is celebrated elsewhere in the world:
- Large Bonfires: Bonfires have been an essential part of Samhain celebrations in Ireland for centuries. On Halloween night, communities come together to light large bonfires, often on hilltops, as a symbol of protection against evil spirits.
- Colcannon: Colcannon is a traditional Irish dish made with mashed potatoes, cabbage or kale, and often includes hidden charms or small prizes. It is customarily served on Halloween, and finding a charm in one’s portion is said to bring good luck.
- Barmbrack: Barmbrack is a type of fruitcake that is also associated with Halloween in Ireland. Similar to colcannon, it may contain hidden items, such as a ring, coin, or pea, each with its own meaning for the person who finds it in their slice.
Our global cultural landscape is constantly evolving, and Halloween’s popularity has continued to spread to more regions around the world since the holiday was first invented. Many other countries also celebrate the holiday in similar ways to what we have written about here.
Do you celebrate Halloween? Where are you located in the world? What is your favorite Halloween activity or treat? Let us know in the comments!