5 Autumn Traditions from Around the World

Take a glance through the looking glass at autumn celebrations around the globe.

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Halloween is just around the bend, and everyone is gearing up for a night of campy horror movies, over-the-top costumes of fan-favorite characters, and sweet treats that rot your teeth. Most Americans have been celebrating this holiday for as long as they can remember; it’s simply a staple tradition. However, there are many more celebrations and traditions that other cultures and even other Americans hold dear.


Halloween

Two children in costume. http://www.creativemaxx.com

The modern classic; this tradition originated from the Celtic festival of Samhain when people would light bonfires and wear costumes to ward off ill-intended spirits. While Samhain is still celebrated today, it paved the way for the commercialized holiday full of costumes and candy we know and love. In later years, November 1st was named All-Saints Day and the day before was made All Hallows Eve, later known as Halloween.


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An ofrenda decorated with candles and fine goods.

Dia de Los Muertos

  

Also known as Day of the Dead; this Mexican holiday is celebrated by families coming together to honor their deceased loved ones. Special altars known as ofrendas are decorated with photos of the ancestors they want to remember, as well as the sentimental items they held dear in life. Cempasuchil, or Mexican marigolds, are littered throughout homes and streets to guide the spirits of the loved ones home. Dia de Muertos starts on the 1st of November, and the festivities carry on until the 2nd.


Samhain

Joanna Malinowska
A pagan Samhain altar.

Samhain is a Gaelic word that means “End of Summer”. It brings an end of the harvest season and welcomes in the “dark half of the year”. Celebrants believe that the veil between the spirit world and the physical world is at its thinnest during Samhain, and use this time to communicate with those who have passed. Samhain is usually celebrated on October 31st, but some traditions prefer November 1st.


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A Ghost Festival feast offering.

                                                                                   Ghost Festival

The Ghost Festival, also known as the Hungry Ghost Festival or Yulan Festival, is a Chinese celebration that honors deceased loved ones with feasts, incense burnings, and ritual offerings. The feasts, usually vegetarian to honor the Buddhist ties, are made and eaten by the families who leave a few empty seats for the spirits held dear. This tradition is in place to treat deceased family members like they are still living. Celebrants believe that on the fifteenth day of the seventh month on the lunar calendar (usually landing around mid-August to mid-September) the realm of the spirits is open, allowing them to pass through.


All Saint’s Day and All Soul’s Day

Owen Murphy
Osey Ordogne Cemetery, Lacombe, LA.

Many Catholics around the world celebrate All Saint’s Day on November 1st, followed by All Soul’s Day on the 2nd. Celebrants use this time to honor the lives of the saints who died for their catholic beliefs by visiting burial sites and going to mass. Germans hold their own traditions with this holiday by hiding their knives so that returning spirits won’t harm themselves or others.