First celebrated by the Irish, Halloween has its roots in the Celtic festival of Samhain. It was a time when the pagans took stock of their supply for winters. It was believed that on Halloween day, the boundaries between the living and dead overlapped and the dead could return back to cause chaos in the living world. Due to this, many cultures around the world celebrate the dead and pray for their souls on this day.
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Of course, today it has become a sybaritic celebration of commercialism. But the myths and superstitions associated with this festival are simply fascinating.
Here are some of the most interesting customs and beliefs associated with Halloween:
1. Celebrate the dead
In Mexico, ‘El Dia los Muertos’ starts on October 31st and ends on November 2nd .Mexicans celebrate the dead by making altars in their home and decorating them with flowers, candies and some of the favorite foods of the deceased.
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2. Tie an apply on the doorframe
In Ireland, where it all started, Halloween is celebrated with lots of games and tricks. One of the games is tying an apple with a string on the doorframe and trying to take a bite out of it.
3. Light up the lanterns and offer food
In China, Halloween is celebrated as Teng Chieh. It is a festival that celebrates the dead with lighting of lanterns and food offerings to the photos of the deceased.
4. Keep the knives away
In Germany too, the people pray for the souls of the dead in Halloween. What is unique though is that they also put all the knives of the house away so that there is no harm to and from the returning spirits.
5. Leave a lighted lamp and bread outside the house
In Austria, bread, water and a lighted lamp are left outside the house on Halloween to welcome the dead souls to the earth.
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6. Celebrate festival of the hungry ghosts
In Hong Kong, Halloween is celebrated as the ‘festival of the hungry ghosts’. In order to appease the wandering ghosts, some people burn pictures of fruit or money
Celebrate this and many other colorful festivals in Hong Kong by planning a trip with our Hong Kong Trip Planner
7. Peel off an apple
In Scotland, the tradition is to peel an apple and throw the peel behind you. It is believed that the shape of the peel resembles the first alphabet in your future husband or wife's name.
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8. Stare back at a dark mirror
In many parts of UK and North America, it is believed that if a young, unmarried person stares into a dark mirror, they will find their future spouse behind their shoulder. If the spouse is going to die soon, people are said to see a skeleton.
9. Burn a candle inside a jack-o-lanter
Have you ever wondered why there is a burning candle kept inside a jack-o-lantern? It is because it is said to keep evil spirits at bay. If the candle blows out by itself, dark spirits are believed to be around you.
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10. Do not look back if you hear footstep
Another Halloween superstition is that if you hear footsteps behind you on the day it is celebrated, do not look back under any circumstance. It is Death who has come to take you.
11. Light big bonfires on Halloween
An old Celtic custom was to light big bonfires on Halloween. After these had burned out, circles were made of the ashes ,representing every family that helped make the fire. Within this circle, and near the circumference, each member would place a pebble. If, on the next day, any stone was displaced, or had been damaged, it was considered to be an indication that the one to whom the stone belonged would die within twelve months.
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12. Born on Halloween? You can converse with the spirits
It is said that if you’re born on Halloween, you can both see and talk to spirits.
13. Rendezvous with a witch
Fancy a rendezvous with a witch? Folklore says that if you wear your clothes inside out and walk backwards, she would come to you.
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14. Light orange candles
For good luck, many people believe that lighting orange candles and letting them burn till morning is auspicious.
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15. Keep the owls away by pulling your pocket out
Some people believed that on Halloween, owls would dive down and eat the souls of anyone dying that night. So, if you want to save yourself from the viciousness of an owl, quickly pull your pocket out and leave it hanging when you hear it hooting.
16. Bats circling your house three times? Sign of a bad omen!
It is also believed that if bats circle your house three times on Halloween night, death is inevitable.
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So this Halloween, don’t just worry about dressing up spookily but watch out for any of the ominous signs associated with this day. Bwahaha!
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