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Halloween-like Traditions From Around The World

Halloween-like traditions from around the world

Seven Lingo24 employees from across the globe share some Halloween-like traditions that might just surprise you.
Halloween is a cultural staple for some countries, others have their own cultural traditions. We caught up with colleagues from some of Lingo24’s hubs – in Romania, the UK, and The Philippines – to discover what festivities they celebrate, and how.

Bulgaria's flagKukeri, Bulgaria

Teodora Stoyanova, Intermediate File Engineering Specialist
Based in Lingo24’s hub in: Timișoara, Romania

Do you celebrate Halloween in Bulgaria? If not, is there an equivalent and what’s the origin/meaning behind that day?

We do not celebrate Halloween, but we have another similar tradition. It is called Kukeri.

Kukeri are elaborately costumed Bulgarian men, who perform traditional rituals intended to scare away evil spirits. The tradition is of Thracian origin, and has been practiced since those times.

There is no set date for Kukeri, it changes every year, but it is always the Monday before the Great Lent, in Spring.

What is the most common game for this holiday in your culture?

People tie a piece of white nougat on a red thread, and hang it from the ceiling. Then, the oldest man in the house swings the thread and nougat. The goal is for players to grab the nougat without using their hands.

After the game, the thread should be enchanted – for good health – and burned.

Do people dress up in any costumes?

Yes, and the costumes are the most interesting part of this event.

Kukeri are elaborately costumed Bulgarian men, who perform traditional rituals intended to scare away evil spirits.

They cover most of the body and include decorated wooden masks of animals and large bells attached to the belt.

The Kukeri walk and dance through villages to scare away evil spirits, with their costumes and the sound of their bells. They are also believed to provide a good harvest, health, and happiness to the village during the year.

Finland's flagPyhäinpäivä, Finland

Satu Lavonen, Service Delivery Team Leader
Based in Lingo24’s hub in: Timișoara, Romania

Do you celebrate Halloween in Finland? If not, is there an equivalent and what’s the origin/meaning behind that day?

Halloween is celebrated in Finland as an imported and commercialised festival which was made popular by American pop-culture.

The more traditional and dominant celebration is Pyhäinpäivä (All Saints’ Day on November 1st). On Pyhäinpäivä people bring candles to the loved ones’ graves. Pyhäinpäivä coincides with a much older, and almost forgotten celebration, called Kekri, which still is celebrated (separately from Pyhäinpäivä) in some regions in Finland. Kekri is a harvest festival, with plenty of food and traditions which are not commonly practiced anymore.

What do you think people would be most surprised by?

Probably the quietness on Pyhäinpäivä: almost everything is closed as people spend the day with their families.

Canada's flagHalloween, Canada

Danielle Honoré, Head of Marketing
Based in Lingo24’s hub in: Edinburgh, Scotland

Do you celebrate Halloween in Canada?

Do we ever! Although it’s been more than 25 years since I left Canada, Halloween takes me back to some of my sweetest childhood memories, growing up in Edmonton, Alberta on the western edge of the Canadian prairies. We’d spend weeks (sometimes months) planning our costumes for Halloween parties, school dances and, of course, trick or treating.

What tradition do you think people would be most surprised by?

Canada’s a big old place, but it was only when asked to contribute to this blog that I began to think about regional differences across the country.

One thing really struck me on my first Halloween in Edmonton, when we’d not long arrived from St John’s Newfoundland in the Canadian Maritimes, when I was six years old:

Many children were calling out ‘Halloween Apples’ instead of ‘trick or treat’ as they made their way around the neighbourhood. I’d never heard this before back East in Newfoundland.

Many children were calling out ‘Halloween Apples’ instead of ‘trick or treat’ as they made their way around the neighbourhood.

Listen to the Halloween Apples chant published by the Globe and Mail

The old ‘Halloween Apples’ chant is no more

I recently discovered that ‘‘Halloween Apples,’ was a peculiarly prairie quirk, with children in the provinces of Manitoba, Saskatchewan and Alberta tending to favour this chant over the more widely used ‘trick or treat’. But it’s definitely fallen out of fashion, and sadly started to die out in the late ‘80s/early ‘90s.

Halloween Apples

A quick (totally un-statistically weighty) Facebook poll of my old Alberta friends swiftly confirmed this, as none of their children had ever heard of it!

Fun fact – Albertans may have been the first to use the phrase ‘trick or treat’

Speaking of trick or treating, it’s thought that the first group of kids to chime this phrase very likely came from Blackie, a small town in Alberta, back in 1927.

Although getting dressed up in costumes and going door to door in search of sweet treats has been around for centuries, it wasn’t until the 1920s that children started using the phrase ‘trick or treat’.

It wasn’t until the 1920s that children started using the phrase ‘trick or treat’.

Spain's flagAll Saints’ Day, Spain

Juan Gil, Head of Consultancy
Based in Lingo24’s hub in: Edinburgh, Scotland

Do you celebrate Halloween in Spain? If not, is there an equivalent and what’s the origin/meaning behind that day?

Traditionally, most parts of Spain only celebrate the day after the Christian tradition of All Saints’ Day (aka All Hallows’ Day) on November 1st, where people visit their relatives’ tombs with flowers to honour their memory. Halloween itself is only a recent American import in most places, apart from in the northern regions, where the celtic traditions survived and are celebrated.

What is the most common tradition for this holiday in your culture?

Traditions for these festivities differ across the regions in Spain, but they are all similar in one respect: visiting your deceased relatives’ tombs on All Saints’ Day. Often, with some traditional sweets for the day. Bonfires and roasted chestnuts with sweet cider are common in many regions too.

What tradition do you think people would be most surprised by?

There are many traditions reflecting the “cult” of the dead and souls in the north west of Spain. One of the most well-known legends – and a particularly creepy one at that – is the Santa Compaña (or Holy Company).

Santa Compana Halloween

Santa Compaña is a procession of lost souls going barefoot, wearing white cloaks, and carrying candles. They are supposed to appear more often during Halloween and Saint John’s Eve.

Santa Compaña is a procession of lost souls going barefoot, wearing white cloaks, and carrying candles.

Legend says the lost souls are led by a living person carrying a cross who will die unless he or she can pass the cross to another person. The idea, obviously, is to stay at home that night, close to the fire, so the cross doesn’t pass to you!

PhilipinesAll Saint’s Day, The Philippines

Sheena Signe, Office Manager & HR Coordinator
Based in Lingo24’s hub in: Cebu, The Philippines

Do you celebrate Halloween in The Philippines? If not, is there an equivalent and what’s the origin/meaning behind that day?

Yes, we do celebrate Halloween in The Philippines. Traditionally, it is a prelude to All Saints’ Day (November 1st) and All Souls’ Day (November 2nd). A day before Halloween, or even a week prior, families typically go to the cemetery to clean their relatives’ tombs or mausoleums before visitors flock to the graves from Halloween until November 2nd.

What is the most common tradition for this holiday in your culture?

Most Filipino families spend the holiday visiting the grave of their loved ones. They stay there the entire day or even camp and spend the night. It becomes a reunion for families, especially those who don’t see each other on a regular basis.

It becomes a reunion for families, especially those who don’t see each other on a regular basis.

What tradition do you think people would be most surprised by?

Whether we are at home or at the cemetery, we prepare our departed relatives’ favourite food with the thought that they’d be able to enjoy these, too, in the afterlife. We also light candles outside of our homes, and the number of candles represents the number of loved ones that we have lost.

The number of candles represents the number of loved ones that we have lost.

Do people dress up in any costumes?

Traditionally, Filipinos don’t dress up in costumes during this holiday, but big companies and malls organize Halloween costume parties.

Northern Ireland's flagHallowe’en, Northern Ireland

Imogen McCaw, Senior Marketing Executive
Based in Lingo24’s hub in: Edinburgh, Scotland

Do you celebrate Halloween in Northern Ireland? If not, is there an equivalent and what’s the origin/meaning behind that day?

In Northern Ireland, Halloween comes from the old Celtic Festival Samhain. Samhain marks the end of the harvest and beginning of winter. So, it’s been celebrated for a long time.

What is the most common game for this holiday in your culture?

There are lots of traditional party games: bobbing-for-apples is pretty popular. Traditionally, this involves plunging your head into a bucket of water to pick up apples with your teeth.

What tradition do you think people would be most surprised by?

Instead of carving pumpkins, it was traditional to use a turnip. It’s much harder to carve, but the smell is quite something.

Halloween Turnip

Do people dress up in any costumes?

Yes, as everything from witches to ghosts, zombies to vampires, and more.

Romania's flagLuminația, Romania

Oana Olea, HR Generalist
Based in Lingo24’s hub in: Timișoara, Romania

Do you celebrate Halloween in Romania? If not, is there an equivalent and what’s the origin/meaning behind that day?

We don’t have any specific traditions for Halloween, but the day after, on November 1st, people begin preparations for the Day of the Dead, or Luminația. In popular tradition, it is the day when the veil between spirit and physical worlds is thin, so people who have passed away can visit those still alive. In Christian tradition, it is a day of remembrance.

Luminația is the day when the veil between spirit and physical worlds is thin, so people who have passed away can visit those still alive.

What is the most common tradition or game for this holiday in your culture?

People visit and clean the graves of their loved ones. They also bring flowers and place light candles or lanterns around the graves. Then, they share cherished memories of their deceased loved ones.

After dark, the twinkle of candles and red lanterns lights up the cemeteries. It’s very beautiful and many people brave the cold to take a stroll and enjoy the view.

Luminatia Halloween

The joy of working for a truly global company is learning the similarities and differences between cultures and languages. Halloween is no exception: from the likenesses between festivities based on celebrating the change of seasons or the peaceful remembrance of beloved ancestors, to the unusual, and particularly creepy, Santa Compaña.

Lingo24

Lingo24 is a global translation company, with interests in marketing, e-commerce, product management and many other areas that are of relevance to our clients. We share news on our company performance, innovative technology solutions, exciting new hires and guest posts from some of our translators.

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