Halloween in Australia is still a relatively new concept, while the northern hemisphere embrace pumpkin spice lattes, pumpkin carving and weeks planning the best and most original costume, Halloween in Australia still seems a little ad-hoc.
Maybe it's because we don't have the autumnal changing of foliage and the cooler days to get us into the spirit, but maybe some effort needs to be made to embrace this spooky tradition.
While October 31, is the calendar date to celebrate Halloween, there is a range of cultural festivals and traditions centred around returning of the dead that spans September to November. Here is a handy guide to how Halloween and Halloween-like events are celebrated across the globe; there might even be a new tradition that you want to start with your family.
Ireland is considered the birthplace of modern Halloween, with its origins stemming from ancient Celtic and Pagan rituals and a festival called Samhain. Today, the Irish celebrate Halloween with bonfires, games, and traditional foods like barmbrack, an Irish fruitcake that contains coins, buttons, and rings for fortunetelling.
Pangangaluluwa is a tradition in the Philippines in which children go door to door, often in costumes, where they sing and ask for prayers for those stuck in purgatory. While the rituals have increasingly been supplanted by trick-or-treating over the years, some towns are working to revive Pangangaluluwa as a way of keeping the tradition alive.
Dia de los Muertos (Day of the Dead) is the popular celebration in these regions. The belief is that on October 31, spirits visit their families and then depart again on November 2. The families set up decorations and food for the arrival of the spirits.
On the 15th day of the seventh lunar month, which is around mid-August to mid-September, the people of Hong Kong celebrate the Hungry Ghost Festival. In several parts of East Asia, people believe that spirits get restless around this time of year and begin to roam the world. The festival is a way to "feed" these spirits both the food and money they need for the afterlife.
In Austria, 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 to be magical.
Much of the mythology around Halloween involves the return of the souls of family and friends. So to avoid accidentally hurting these invisible ghouls and ghosts, some Germans hide all their knives at Halloween.
Fave Dei Morti, in Italian, translates to "beans of the dead", and isa morbid name for the fava bean-shaped sugar cookies consumed during the Italian Day of the Dead. The significance is due to the ancient belief that souls of the dead resided in fava beans, which allowed for a connection between the worlds of the living and the dead.