Here, some people will leave bread, water, and a lighted lamp on the table before retiring on Halloween night. It was once believed that these would welcome the dead souls back to earth on a night that Austrians considered being magical.
Germans put away their knives on Halloween night. The reason for this is because they do not want to risk harm to (or from) the returning spirits.
The Belgians believe that it is unlucky for a black cat to cross one’s path and also unlucky if it should enter a home or travel on a ship. The custom in Belgium on Halloween night is to light candles in memory of dead relatives.
The Halloween celebration in Hong Kong is known as “Yue Lan” (Festival of the Hungry Ghosts) and is a time when it is believed that spirits roam the world for twenty-four hours. Some people burn pictures of fruit or money at this time, believing these images would reach the spirit world and bring comfort to the ghosts. Fires are lit and food and gifts are offered to placate potentially angry ghosts who might be looking for revenge
In China, the Halloween festival is known as Teng Chieh. Food and water are placed in front of photographs of family members who have departed while bonfires and lanterns are lit in order to light the paths of the spirits as they travel the earth on Halloween night. Worshippers in Buddhist temples fashion “boats of the law” from paper, some of which are very large, which are then burned in the evening hours.
Among New World Spanish-speaking nations, particularly Mexico and Aztec-influenced Latin America, Halloween is a thing but also they have “El Dia de los Muertos.” The days of the dead, a three-day celebration that begins on the evening of October 31 and culminates on November 2nd.
This is an ancient festivity that has been transformed throughout the years. It was originally intended in prehistoric Mexico to celebrate children and the dead. Mexican families remember their dead and the continuity of life.
It is a happy holiday…a time to remember friends and family who have died. Officially commemorated on November 2 (All Souls’ Day), the three-day celebration actually begins on the evening of October 31.
Designed to honor the dead who are believed to return to their homes on Halloween, many families construct an altar in their home and decorate it with candy, flowers, photographs, fresh water and samples of the deceased’s favorite foods and drinks. Frequently, a basin and towel are left out in order that the spirit can wash prior to indulging in the feast. Candles and incense are burned to help the departed find his or her way home.
Relatives gather at the gravesite to picnic and reminisce, clean the gravesites and do some painting/repairing. The grave is then adorned with flowers, wreaths or paper streamers. They bring picnics and sit around the grave sites sharing stories of the departed and feasting on foods such as spicy meat dishes, batter bread and lots of sweets; some shaped like skulls, and sometimes even Tequila and Mariachis!
The abundance of food, drink, and good company creates a festive atmosphere along with recognizing the cycle of life by the interaction of the living with the dead.
In the villages, parades are held. People dress as skeletons and dance in the streets. Often, a live person is placed inside a coffin which is then paraded through the streets while vendors toss fruit, flowers and candies into the casket. This is how they celebrate Halloween around the world!