When you combine the approaching Halloween holiday with the chill of autumn, plus Weird Halloween traditions, you have the perfect recipe for fright (and fun!).
With weird Halloween traditions, you have deathly apparitions roam the streets during the long, pitch-black nights.
Learn how other countries perceive Halloween with their weird Halloween traditions so that you can pick the perfect location for your next scary night out. Of course, Halloween’s most enjoyable aspects are its customs, such as trick-or-treating, Jack-O’-Lanterns, and spooky costumes. So while sorting your candy with friends, share these tasty tidbits with them.
…And don’t forget that this Halloween season, you too can bring the mystique and fright of Halloween and the world’s celebration of the inexplicable and the sublime with Xinar’s very own Halloween charms in sterling silver! So relieve the good old days of trick-or-treating and the holidays and practice your crafty creativity this spooky season!
Creating a Halloween Carve Jack-O’-Lanterns
Irish turnips were used to create the first Jack-O’-Lanterns, which were said to be inspired by the legend of a man named Stingy Jack who, according to the story, trapped the Devil many times and only released him when he promised that Jack would never enter Hell.
The afterlife didn’t want Jack either, and when he died, he found out why: he had been the wrong person, and Heaven didn’t want his soul. So Jack was given a chunk of coal lit from within a carved-out turnip by the Devil so that he could see. At some point, locals started carving their terrifying faces into gourds to ward off evil spirits.
Celts celebrated the harvest’s end and winter’s beginning with the festival Samhain, during which they believed spirits or ghosts roamed the Earth. The idea that the living and the dead mix annually around this time was perpetuated when Christian missionaries established All Souls Day on November 2.
But why do we see ghosts?
According to mystics, the phenomena that cannot be detected by sense perception become evident during a spiritual experience, proving the existence of an extrasensory region of space of reality. However, supernatural claims about the existence of the paranormal vary greatly. Spirituality is not just a theoretical concept for mystics; it is something they actively seek out. When one thinks about spiritual phenomena in such a way that they attach strong emotions to them, one might say they have experienced them. The spiritual is mystical, fantastic, immediate, and intriguing when experienced from the heart. How do ghosts figure in your weird Halloween traditions at home? Tell us in the comments!
Putting on Spooky Attires
The Celts had to get creative to deal with the hordes of ghosts that roamed the Earth during Samhain. People would dress up in disguises, hoping the ghosts would mistake them for spirits and leave them alone.
For the annual celebration of All Hallows’ Eve, which occurs on October 31, people dress up in various spooktacular costumes. Although Halloween costumes may have existed before 1585, their first written record appeared in Scotland that year. Scottish, Irish, Manx, and Welsh sources from the 18th and 19th centuries provide numerous references to the practice. Some have hypothesized that the practice originated with the Christian celebration of Allhallowtide or with the Celtic festivals of Samhain and Calan Gaeaf. One possible source for Halloween costumes is the Christian practice of celebrating the danse macabre.
Christians celebrate holidays like Christmas with revelry that includes costumed revelers.
Typical Halloween costumes are based on scary monsters from folklore or the supernatural. However, by the 1930s, dressing up like a popular character from a movie, book, or radio show was common practice. It used to be that only the young ones dressed up for Halloween, but that started to change around the middle of the 20th century.
One possible origin of Halloween costumes is the idea that ghosts and other supernatural beings or the spirits of the dead walk the earth at this time of year. This custom may have been inspired by a Celtic celebration of the coming of winter on October 31–November 1.
In Ireland, Scotland, and the Isle of Man, it was known as Samhain, while in Wales, Cornwall, and Brittany, it was known as Calan Gaeaf.
It is thought that the festival predates Christianity. However, some of these practices may have been incorporated into the Christian celebration of All Hallows’ Eve in Ireland, which was still known as Samhain/Calan Gaeaf after the country was Christianized in the 5th century.
It was considered a transitional period when departed souls and fairies could more easily cross over into our world. Therefore, propitiating the Aos S was necessary to ensure the survival of people and livestock throughout the harsh winter months.
Among the more well-known weird Halloween traditions is asking for candy on Halloween has murky roots. One theory about what happened at Samhain is that Celts left food out for the souls, ghosts, and spirits roaming the Earth then. Eventually, humans started donning costumes resembling these aliens to receive perks such as free meals and drinks.
Trick-or-Treating the Scottish Way
Some scholars have hypothesized that the Scottish custom of guising—a secularized form of souling—is the inspiration for the candy craze. All Souls’ Day was originally a day when poor children and adults would go door to door asking for food or money in exchange for prayers said for the dead. However, guisers would perform secular acts such as songs or “tricks instead of praying.”
The origins of modern trick-or-treating can be traced back to the practice of belsnickling, which was common in German-American neighborhoods and involved children dressing up in costumes and knocking on neighbors’ doors to see if the adults could guess who they were. If no one correctly identified a child, that child was given a treat. Eventually it became part of a long list of weird Halloween traditions in America.
The Annual Fear of Black Cats
Everyone loves a cat and mouse scene, but black cats have long been associated with the macabre because they were thought to represent the Devil in medieval times. Cats didn’t help their image when, centuries later, accused witches were frequently discovered with cats, especially black ones. People began to think that cats were a witch’s “familiar” or an animal that helped them perform their dark magic.
The belief that encountering a black cat will bring bad luck is among the world’s oldest and most widely-held superstitions. However, the reputation of the black cats for being scary is primarily due to their incorporation into modern Halloween symbols.
Some of the earliest human civilizations had close ties to cats; ancient Egypt, in particular, revered them as divine symbols. For example, according to European folklore, Hecate, the Greek goddess of magic, sorcery, the moon, and witchcraft, is depicted as having a pet cat and a familiar cat (a supernatural creature that assists a witch, according to European folklore).
Cats, long associated with the Devil, later became closely associated with witches in medieval Europe. When the early Christian church in Europe began gaining influence, it and the witches coexisted peacefully. However, as the church grew, the witches became a threat. After that, the church started actively seeking out, persecuting, torturing, and ultimately killing witches in large numbers.
Wiccans held high regard for the natural environment and its inhabitants. As a result, people started viewing the humane treatment of animals with suspicion, and the old lady with her cats became a suspect figure.
The early Christians feared witches and cats because of the fictitious link between these things and the Devil. Like the women accused of witchcraft, cats often display a healthy disregard for authority. However, they are not doglike in their fawning over the undeserving. Neither self-reliant women nor self-reliant animals were allowed in the church.
It’s unclear when or why black cats became the only acceptable companion for witches, but the trend persists. While the supposed link between witches and black cats is most likely made up, black cats may be more effective mousers because they are harder to spot in the dark. Practicality is a trait shared by witches.
The Puritan colonists brought the superstition that black cats were witches’ familiars across the Atlantic. Moreover, the accusers’ possession of cats likely led to the notion that witches could transform into their familiar.
Bobbing for Apples
The Roman festival in honor of Pomona, goddess of agriculture and plenty, is where the courting ritual that inspired today’s game first took place.
Bobbing for apples has many iterations, but its central premise was that it could predict the romantic lives of high school students. The conquest of Britain led to the Pomona festival’s merging with the earlier Samhain celebration, which later evolved into Halloween.
Using Black and Orange as a Decorating Theme
Even the traditional Halloween palette has its roots in the Celtic holiday Samhain. Because of its association with Halloween, black was used to symbolize the “death” of summer, while orange was used to represent the harvest season in the fall.
Pranks and Jokes
The pre-Halloween custom, also known as “Devil’s Night,” has various origin stories depending on who you ask because it is a phenomenon that varies widely from region to region. According to some sources, pranks may have even had their origins in the May Day celebrations. However, it appears that good-natured mischief was a part of Samhain and, later, All Souls’ Day. Mischief Night is integral to the Halloween celebrations brought to America by Scottish and Irish immigrants.
Firing up the Candlesticks and Open Fires
While candles have replaced massive traditional bonfires as the most common form of Halloween night illumination, open flames played a significant role in the holiday’s early history, providing a path to the afterlife for departed loved ones.
People have been using sugar syrup coatings on fruit for centuries to keep it fresh. Apples have been honored at harvest festivals since the Roman festival of Pomona, the goddess frequently symbolized by apples.
Looking for Bats
Not only symbolically but also likely in person, bats were present at the first Halloween parties. The Celts celebrated Samhain by lighting massive bonfires, which served as a beacon for flying insects. The insects served as a magnet for bats, who came to be associated with the celebration. The bat’s already lousy reputation was bolstered in medieval folklore by several superstitions based on the belief that bats foretold death.
Snacking on Sweets
Trick-or-treating has always been a traditional part of Halloween celebrations. However, “treats” weren’t always sweets until the middle of the twentieth century. Then, it was just as common to hand out toys, coins, fruits, and nuts.
Candy manufacturers heavily promoted small, individually wrapped candies in the 1950s as trick-or-treating gained popularity. It was more convenient, so people complied, but candy didn’t become the only option for treats until the 1970s when parents began to worry about their children eating unwrapped food.
Having a Candy Corn Snack
Some accounts place the 1880s Philadelphia invention of tri-color candy in the hands of a candymaker at Wunderlee Candy Company. However, it wasn’t until another company began mass-producing and selling the sweets in 1898 that they became a cultural phenomenon. Chicken Feed was the name for candy corn back then, and the packaging would boast, “Something worth crowing for.” Candy corn was originally just an autumn treat because of the harvest season associated with corn. Still, it became associated with Halloween when trick-or-treating became popular in the United States in the 1950s.
All Souls’ Day in Mexico
The Mexican holiday known as Dia de Los Muertos (Day of the Dead) is celebrated on November 2. It was a summertime pagan celebration (around the start of August). Still, after the Spanish colonization of Mexico in the 16th century, it was moved to the Catholic calendar to coincide with All Souls’ Day. Additionally, it’s become a staple of the Halloween celebration.
The original celebration honored the “Lady of the dead,” the modern-day La Calavera Catrina, whose skull serves as the festival’s symbol. Friends and family spend the day at the graves of the deceased, eating pan de Muerto (bread of the dead) and drinking the alcoholic beverage of choice for the departed.
The sugar skull is also an iconic symbol of the event in Mexico.
The deceased’s favorite things, pictures, Aztec marigolds, treats like candied pumpkins, sugar skulls, and letters from the family are all left as offerings at the grave to entice and encourage the souls to visit. After their long trip, the spirits are given blankets and pillows. In addition, private memorial altars are erected in homes across the country. On Insight Guides’ Mexico’s Churros and Chiapas trip, you’ll get to spend today in Mexico City, participating in parades and other celebrations.
Celebration of Ecuador’s Day of the Dead
On November 2, Ecuador celebrates Dia de Los Difuntos (Day of the Deceased). Like on Dia de Los Muertos, people will bring food to the graves of loved ones who have passed away. After the celebrations, a plate of food is left on the grave.
Traditional guaguas de pan, also known as “bread babies,” is baked dough filled with jam or other sweet sauces and then decorated. They are either baked at home or purchased from a bakery, especially for this occasion. The bread babies are traditionally served with a Colada Morada.
Prepared by simmering black and blueberries in sugar, then seasoning the resulting pulp with cinnamon and cloves. The liquid is thickened by adding oatmeal, and the whole thing is blended until it’s completely smooth. During Insight Guides’ Ecuador: History and Culture tour, you’ll have the chance to learn more about the country’s rich cultural history.
Singaporeans will begin planning for a spooky Halloween atmosphere in the month leading up to the holiday. Like many other countries, Singapore observes the dead during the three days of October 31–November 2. However, Trick-or-treating and other Western-style celebrations are not as common in Singapore. Travel with Insight Guides to Singapore for a fun family outing while enjoying the city’s eerie vibes.
The streets are illuminated with carved pumpkins, and there are spooky parades and torchlight processions to set the mood.
Ghost tours of haunted houses, cemeteries, parks and even hospitals are also part of the festivities. Night safaris feature ghosts, witches, and devils in addition to the usual wildlife, and there are plenty of parties where people dress up and paint their faces.