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13 Ways Halloween Is Celebrated Around the World

Depending on where you go, Halloween can be very silly—or very serious.

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African American mother and her son preparing for Halloween party at home.
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Halloween around the world

In America, people associate Halloween with pumpkins, costumes, candy, and spooky stories or ghosts, but around the world, Halloween looks a little different. Halloween might look slightly different this year since we are still in the midst of a global pandemic, but we can reminisce on years past. Read on to see what other countries do on October 31.

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Freshly baked barnbrack, a traditional Halloween cake
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Seeing as how the origin of modern-day Halloween traces back to the ancient Celts, it comes as no surprise that the Irish have their own unique way of celebrating the holiday. For Americans, simply any kind of candy on Halloween will do. For the Irish, however, it’s not just the candy that is important, but a sweet bread called Barnbrack, which serves as its official Halloween dessert. Find out why we carve pumpkins on Halloween before you start carving this years Halloween jack-o-lantern. Plus, learn the best tricks to make your carved pumpkin last longer.

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Man standing in front of a Guy Fawkes bonfire during the 5th of November at Lindifield bonfire night, West Sussex, England


Not all countries celebrate Halloween, and some are only just beginning to open their arms to it (albeit somewhat begrudgingly). England falls in this category because it already has a holiday on November 5, Guy Fawkes Day, which dates back to 1605. The day looks back on the infamous Gunpowder Plot, when Catholics tried to blow up Parliament and King James I in 1605. Film buffs will recognize it from the movie V for Vendetta. Halloween and Guy Fawkes Day clashed at first, but now many are attempting to merge traditions. Don’t miss the history behind these spooky superstitions.

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Russian Orthodox middle-aged woman in a scarf stands on the background of the Orthodox wooden Church.


Russia emphatically does not celebrate Halloween. In fact, Russians are very vocal about why the holiday is not welcome in their country. Some politicians and religious groups say it goes against their Christian and cultural values and traditions. Check out these creepy ouija board stories that will make you want to sleep with the lights on.

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Roasting chestnuts in a special pan over an open fire
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The Scotts say that a certain Halloween ritual will tell you if you and your lover are truly meant to be: Throw nuts into a fire. If they fracture and crack loudly, it looks like you won’t be hearing wedding bells any time soon. If they roast quietly, your relationship will be nothing but smooth sailing. This is why stores put out Halloween candy so early.

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Joss Money, Candles and joss sticks used in Chinese Ghost Festival
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In China, the U.S. version of Halloween is only really celebrated among expat communities. However, China does have its own equivalent of the Day of the Dead. It actually occurs not on one day, but several. It is called the Hungry Ghost Festival, and it involves honoring good spirits as well as avoiding evil ones.

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Chinese communities in Malaysia celebrate the Hungry Ghost Festival as well. Part of its celebration includes entertaining performances from opera to puppet shows. The same is true of Chinese communities found in Singapore. Here are 12 more surprising facts about Halloween.

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Japan Halloween
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Halloween is not a holiday that is native to Japan, but as has happened with other countries, the Land of the Rising Sun has slowly been adopting it. What makes Halloween particularly fun and exciting in Tokyo and other big cities is the intense costuming. Cosplay is already a huge part of Japanese youth culture, so dressing up for Halloween is a piece of cake for those who celebrate it. This is why Halloween colors are orange and black.

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Autumn table setting with pumpkins. Thanksgiving dinner and autumn decoration.


In India, Halloween isn’t just about costumes and cobwebs; it’s about food. Many restaurants all over the country will prepare Halloween-themed menus just for this day. Here’s why we celebrate Halloween in the first place.

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Rwanda Halloween
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Some communities have embraced the holiday and throw parties at this time of year, but certain people in the government seek to put a stop to the revelry. That’s right, we’re talking about a Halloween ban in the nation of Rwanda. Read up on the real history behind why we carve pumpkins.

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Castle Frankenstein, Germany
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Halloween only started to catch on in Bavaria roughly 20 years ago. Some still resist the holiday, but others celebrate it by attending the Pumpkin Festival in Retzer Land or touring the old ruins of Burg Frankenstein castle, which is where the Frankenstein horror story began. These spooky Halloween legends refuse to die.

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Bran Castle, Transylvania, Romania
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In the original Bram Stoker novel, Dracula’s castle can be found in Transylvania, a region in central Romania. Bran Castle, one of several castles associated with the Dracula legend, is open for a dance party on All Hallows Eve. Check out these vampire legends that are actually true.

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Dina Julayeva/Shutterstock


The most famous Halloween celebration is, of course, Mexico’s Day of the Dead. Technically it’s not exactly Halloween, but a day for people to honor their deceased friends and family that occurs on November 2. Mexicans believe that on this day, spirits can come visit the world of the living and the celebrations in their honor are absolutely wild. Read up on the spooky origins of Halloween creatures before the holiday rolls around.

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New Orleans, Louisiana

Most places in the U.S. celebrate Halloween in much the same way, but one city that stands apart is New Orleans. This town loves both to party and voodoo, so one can find things here they couldn’t anywhere else; from street parties to voodoo-themed art displays, there is much for the eye to behold. Don’t miss these 11 creepy real events that actually happened on Halloween.

For more fun facts, costume ideas, traditions, candy inspiration, spooky entertainment, and updates on how October 31 will look different this year, check out our Halloween Guide.

Taylor Markarian
Taylor Markarian is a regular contributor to RD.com covering culture, advice, travel, pets and all things weird and haunted. She is the author of "From the Basement: A History of Emo Music and How It Changed Society," which analyzes the evolution of punk and mental health. She holds a B.A. in Writing, Literature and Publishing from Emerson College.