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What is your Halloween?

Hannah Ngueyn/Illustration

Hannah Ngueyn/Illustration

Hannah Ngueyn/Illustration

What is your Halloween?

Grab your broom and discover how its celebrated in other countries!

October 18, 2017

Life after death has always been mysterious and fascinating. People never completely understand where will they go, how will they feel, or what will they turn to be when the moment of death knocks the door. They are curious about the existence about a different world that human never have a chance to access to. That’s why besides Halloween, variety of traditions and customs has been made to honor decease love ones and ancestors.

In China, the origin of the month of the soul originates from Pluto opening the Devil’s Door on July 2 every year so that hungry ghosts can return to the earth and return to the moon. Therefore, according to folk customs, earthly people must give porridge, rice, salt for hungry ghosts so that they do not interfere with everyday life. There are places, people call the hungry ghost is “good brothers”, “god of the back door” to grab the hearts of hungry ghosts. Every year, people perform soul worship on July 14 lunar calendar.

Hong Kong
About 1.2 million people are from Chiu Chow in Guangdong Province, China lives in Hong Kong. At the Feast of the Soul, they organize their own festival of Yu Lan, which can last for the seventh lunar month. The festival has been held for over 100 years and is officially considered as part of China’s intangible cultural heritage.
Throughout this month, Chiu Chow people fills parks, squares, courts and other large enough places to sacrifice ancestors and wandering ghosts, burning incense and paper gold, free rice distribution, and live performances of Chinese opera and Chiu Chow-style dramas for the specter in need of some entertainment.

Chuseok is one of the most important holidays of the Korean people, this is the day that the farmers celebrate their ancestors thanks to their bumper harvest of the year and their wish for the next harvest. The most important thing in the Chuseok ceremony is to show respect to the ancestors through the beolcho and seongmyo rituals. On Chuseok day, families will go to the grave of their ancestors, cut weeds and clean the area around the grave. After cleaning the tomb, they will offer ancestral offerings including fruits, grains and harvested products to express gratitude to their ancestors.

Believers believe that man has two parts: the soul and the body. When dead, the soul leaves the body, the body decomposes and the soul will continue to exist. The soul can return to heaven, or reincarnate, or be exiled to hell according to the good or evil that he did when alive. However, due to the bad karma, some souls are not being received, must wander and suffer cold or hunger, or harass the living .
Believing in souls, most Vietnamese keep the worship of their ancestors and relatives who have died. Offering soul can be a humanitarian act, to “save” miserable souls or a form of “bribe” to prevent bad lucks made by the souls. The biggest worship festival is the full moon day of July, which coincides with the Buddhist festival of Vu Lan.

The Japanese believe that the souls of the deceased will visit home during the festival. On the first day, family members will visit, repair and clean the tombs together and invite souls to reunite with the family. On the last day of the holiday, people bring lanterns to the rivers, lakes and beaches to send the deceased souls to the afterlife. Therefore, people also call Obon “Soul festival” and ghost stories are usually told on this day, as well as to not offensive souls yet to escape. If Obon is a dignified traditional festival, then Halloween, which takes place more than two months later, is a fun festival with lots of harmless jokes, and this is also a chance for children to enjoy and have fun. Therefore, sometimes the Japanese call Halloween “Obon of children”.

“Día de los Muertos” or “Day of the Dead” is a traditional Mexican holiday honoring the dead and held annually on November 1 and 1/2. On those days, the Mexicans built their own altar called “ofrendas” to commemorate the dead and wear masks with ghosts or skulls, organize parties to eat and see it as a reunion. Popular food on this occasion is tequila, mezcal, hot chocolate, breads and skull-shaped candy. A name of a person is usually placed on the forehead of each skull. People can buy skull-shaped candies with their friends’ names and enjoy poking each other by eating “their heads”.

While traditional Halloween involves such creepy and fancy costumes, mysterious stories and trick or treat, Halloween in England is quite different from others. A massive night parade of masked people takes place on November 5th every year. This day in 1605 is considered a day Guy Fawkes assassinated King James I and was arrested during the assassination.

Middle east
In Persian Gulf, Qarqe’an is a celebration which is like Halloween. Children, however, do not dress up, they just get treats such as candies or nuts from the neighborhood by knocking doors and singing songs. The songs are mainly about the bless from Allah to the youngest child in the family. People from these countries celebrate this tradition during the middle of Ramadan, usually between the 13th and 15th of the ninth month in the Islamic calendar.

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