Halloween around the world

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Halloween (also spelt Hallowe’en or known as All Hallows’ Eve) is recognised every year on 31 October in lots of countries around the world. Find out more about Halloween with busuu!

How did Halloween start?

Many people believe that Halloween originally developed from festivals in western Europe, celebrating either harvests or the dead. It might even come from the Gaelic seasonal festival called Samhain, which was observed in Ireland and Scotland.

Where is Halloween celebrated?

Although it began in Europe, Halloween is now popular in many other countries due to migrants introducing the tradition. For example, it’s thought that it arrived in North America thanks to Irish people who moved there in the 19th century.

North America

Throughout the USA and Canada, Halloween is one of the biggest events of the year. After Christmas, it’s also the most popular time to decorate both indoors and outdoors!

Trick-or-treating is a favourite pastime. This involves children dressing up and then going from door to door to ask for sweets. Halloween costume parties are very common – for adults too!

Europe

Halloween is not as popular as in North America, but it’s still widely celebrated. Typical activities include fancy dress parties, trick-or-treating, ‘bobbing’ for apples, making lanterns, eating toffee apples or enjoying fireworks.

Central and South America

The Day of the Dead, which is on the 2nd of November, is a well-known festival in Mexico. It’s a time when friends and family get together to remember those who have died.

However, North-American-style Halloween celebrations are also growing in popularity, including games such as trick-or-treating and typical symbols like pumpkin lanterns and witches.

Asia

For Chinese in Hong Kong and Singapore, Halloween is a time to give presents to spirits to keep them happy. Western-style celebrations are also popular in Singapore and Japan.

Explore Halloween with busuu!

Are you feeling spooky? Then try out the special busuu Halloween learning unit! It has lots of useful vocabulary, as well as a dialogue, a writing exercise, a chance to chat to native speakers and a test to check what you’ve remembered.

How do you celebrate?

Is Halloween celebrated where you live? Or do you have a similar local festival with different traditions? Does your language have any special Halloween words or phrases? Let us know in the comments!

7 thoughts on “Halloween around the world

  1. mahsa

    I’m Mahsa from Iran. we don’t celeberate this festival, but I heared about it. I heared people scare eachother on this day.they do makeup like zumbis and scare others and have fun.

  2. Colin

    Halloween is certainly an old Scottish tradition and instead of a pumpkin, children went around with a hollowed out turnip lantern. The children dressed up in home made disguises and went out “guising”. At each house they were expected to be able to “do a turn”, which is either a song, a poem or a joke, before they got their reward. They received apples and tangerines which were just coming in to season; remember fruit and vegetables were not available all year round like now. They played games such as “dookin” (ducking) for apples which involved trying to grab the apple with your mouth only while it bobbed about in a basin of water. Another traditional Halloween game was to tie pancakes or scones covered in treacle from a line and the children had to try to eat them with their hands behind their backs. Very messy!
    It seems that the modern “American” Halloween has a lot of the same characteristics as the Scottish Halloween which has been around for much longer. So when asked where Halloween started, remember its european roots.

  3. Mastaneh Aghaee

    I’m from Iran, in fact we don’t a Halloween festival in our country, but I’m almost familliar with it and I know somthing about it.
    But we have a celebration that it is on the last Tuesday in a year and we have the same “trick or treat” too in this custom!

  4. Mastaneh Aghaee

    I’m from Iran, in fact we don’t have a Halloween festival in our country, but I’m almost familliar with it and I know somthing about it.
    But we have a celebration that it is on the last Tuesday in a year and we have the same “trick or treat” too in this custom!

  5. zarema

    I’m from Russia. We don’t celebrate this holiday, but I know about it. I’ve known it fom English textbooks while learning English. I live on the Northen CAUCASES .The most population are Moslims and Orthodoxes. I think this holiday is celebrated by Сatholics, that’s why this holiday isn’t so popular as it’s popular in Europe and America.

  6. Brahim

    I’am from morocco , in my country we don’t celebrate the halloween but I’m familiar with it and I know something about it like fear eachother with a pumpkin arranged to feary .faces .

  7. Imenimenya

    Im from Russia too,but some of us celebrate Halloween,cause it is fun. We dont do treak-or-treat things,but have parties and so on.we take only exterior thing,not inner meaning,but if it can make children happy why not?)

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