Many of the places that we go on family vacations celebrate Halloween in different ways or have an interesting lore surrounding the holiday. With that time of year upon us, we thought it would be fun to share with you a few facts about Halloween in the places you may go for your next family vacation!
Did you know that Ireland is believed to be the birthplace of Halloween? And that it is one of the world’s oldest holidays? It originated with the ancient Celtic festival of Samhain over 2,000 years ago. The Celtic year was divided into two halves, the brighthalf (Beltane) and the darkhalf (Samhain). Samhain, which translates to “summers end,” marked the transition into the long and dark of winter. Much like modern New Year’s Day there was a theme of “out with the old and in with the new.” Celts believed that on the night before the New Year the boundary between the worlds of the living and the dead became blurred and the souls of the departed would return to their former homes. People would light bonfires and wear costumes to ward off roaming ghosts. Then all of the fires would be extinguished, making it the darkest night of the year. To mark the start of the New Year, the fires would be ceremoniously re-lit.
These fundamental concepts of Halloween can be found in similar celebrations around the world today!
With the immigration of the Irish to Canada in the 1800s came the celebration of Halloween. Modern celebrations include carving Jack O’Lanterns, decorating homes with pumpkins and trick-or-treating. This is the same for the United States. There is no record of Halloween before the mid-19th century when large numbers of Irish moved to the country.
In Mexico and Latin American countries Dia de los Muertos – Day of the Dead – honors deceased loved ones. This is actually a several day celebration beginning on the evening of October 31 and continuing through November 2.
In Costa Rica, October 31st is called “Dia de la Mascarada” (Day of the Masquarade). The holiday originated as an adaptation of Carnival. Parades are held throughout the country with many people wearing costumes known as masquerades. Each masquerade has a head and a body made from layers of glue and newspaper sheets, similar to papier-mâché.
China has a Halloween festival called Teng Chieh each year when food and water are placed in front of photographs of their departed relatives. There are also bonfires and lanterns lit to guide the spirits back to Earth.
In the United States, Halloween is one of the most popular holidays. Every year 65% of Americans celebrate by decorating their homes and offices. Most people also dress up in a costume. And one more fun fact: Halloween is when more candy is sold than any other holiday all year in the United States!
So no matter where your next family vacation takes you, it’s safe to say that there is a little bit of interesting Halloween history or lore surrounding it!