Halloween Traditions Around the World

Halloween isn’t just scary movies and eating sweets – it’s an ancient tradition marking the end of summer and a time of spiritual as well as seasonal change. Many different cultures around the world mark this time of year with their own traditions – let’s take a look at them! 


In Chinese culture the closest equivalent to Halloween is the Ghost Festival, which takes place in the seventh lunar month of the Chinese calendar. It is believed that the spirits of dead relatives emerge from the afterlife, while the living offer them food and entertainment to please them.


In Italy, Ognissanti is celebrated at this time of year. It encompasses the Catholic holiday of All Saints Day on 1st November, where the saints of the church are honoured, and the Italian Day of the Dead on 2nd November which is a time for remembering departed friends and family. In some areas small sweets will be left for well-behaved children, while in others food and water is left out for the spirits to feed on.


Pangangaluluwa is celebrated 1st November, children traditionally dress up in white sheets to look like ghosts or lost souls. They greet neighbours by singing and asking for prayers and are sometimes given treats.

Gaelic Countries

Gaelic countries like Ireland and Scotland are often credited as starting traditions that have persisted and evolved into the Halloween customs we know today – dressing up coming from ‘guising’, where children dress up as spirits and sing rhymes in exchange for treats. The pagan tradition was celebrated for many years and is still observed by modern pagans with bonfires and other festivities.