Creative Child

How Kids Around the World Celebrate Halloween

by Rebecca Eanes

In our house, Halloween is a time for painting pumpkins, watching scary(ish) movies, and dressing up as the kids’ latest obsession (Lego minifigs, anyone?) for an evening of trick or treating, because who doesn’t love buckets of candy? Let’s take a look at how kids around the world celebrate Halloween.


Pangangaluluwa is the Filipino tradition of celebrating All Soul’s Day Eve. Though this tradition is now fading away, kids would form groups and go house to house singing in exchange for suman, or soul cake. It is said they represent the souls in purgatory and ask for prayers from the living to help them to heaven. They would also be allowed to steal items such as clothes, vegetables, fruits, and eggs because they believed that spirits of their loved ones would visit to retrieve the item from them. Nowadays, however, you’ll see kids celebrating Halloween in a western fashion, with kids dressing up in costumes, ringing doorbells, and asking for candy.


Many Australians celebrate Halloween with parties, costumes, and trick-or-treating. This year, towns and cities across the country will hold their seventh annual Zombie Walks to raise money for the Brain Foundation. Popular costume choices for Australian kids in 2015 were skeletons and animal costumes.


In the last decade, Halloween has gained a lot of popularity in Germany, now bringing in 200 million euros per year. You’ll find costume parties, pumpkin festivals, and even a haunted castle called the Burg Frankenstein. Looks too creepy to me! Trick or treating isn’t huge in Germany, though you’ll find it in some large cities. This is partly due to the tradition of children going door to door in observance of Martinstag on November 11 to sing for baked goods.


Here where it all began, Halloween is still a big deal. Once a pagan festival called “Samhain,” the Celts believed that dead spirits would visit the mortal world on the eve of Halloween. They lit bonfires and dressed in disguises to keep the spirits away. Now Halloween is less about spirits and more about fun costumes, food, and trick or treating, though the bonfires are a tradition that lives on. The city of Derry hosts a large Halloween celebration with a street carnival and fireworks!


Halloween seems to be pushing aside the long celebrated Guy Fawkes Night, much to the dismay of about 45% of Brits. Guy Fawkes Night celebrates the foiling of an attempt to blow up the House of Parliament in London on November 5, 1605. Guy Fawkes was a member of the group of Catholic conspirators planning the attack. American-style celebrations have become increasingly popular in England, and children carve pumpkins, dress in costume, trick or treat, and attend costume parties.


Some Halloween Scottish traditions include carving lanterns out of turnips and bonfires. Instead of trick or treating, kids dress as evil spirits by blackening their faces and going guising. They can’t just knock on the door and expect a handful of candy though; they’re expected to perform a trick by reciting a song, poem, or joke before receiving their treats. At Halloween parties across Scotland, you’ll find kids “dookin’ for apples” which we know as bobbing.


Ghost trains, trolley tours, parades, haunted houses, and parties—Canada knows how to throw a Halloween bash! You’ll not only find children in costume trick or treating, but adults are getting increasingly into the Halloween spirit. You’ll find plenty of dressed up pets, as well!


Last year, consumers spent a whopping 6.9 billion dollars on Halloween! Anoka, Minnesota is the Halloween capital of the world, and there you’ll find all kinds of contests, parades, races, and events. Watching horror movies or visiting haunted attractions is a fun tradition for older kids while the younger ones can be found painting pumpkins, jumping in pits of corn, picking pumpkins and gourds from the pumpkin patch, and dressing up in all kinds of creative costumes. The second most popular holiday next to Christmas, it’s almost scary how much Americans love Halloween!

Rebecca Eanes is the bestselling author of multiple books including Positive Parenting: An Essential Guide, The Positive Parenting Workbook, and The Gift of a Happy Mother. She is the grateful mom of two boys. 


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