After doing some research into how Halloween is celebrated on the continent, I found out some pretty interesting facts on what France, Portugal and Spain do in honour of the holiday. One thing tied the holidays together in particular, and that was a day just after Halloween is called All Saints’ Day in all three. This day, which takes place generally on November 1, is dedicated to honouring the dead and was created by Pope Boniface IV in order to quieten down the Pagan celebrations of Samhain, a fire festival that marks the autumn harvest.
However, it seems like the popularisation of Halloween by big celebrator America has managed to influence other countries into considering the spookier side of the festival – with many thanks going out to the American horror industry that exploded in the 80s, with films like A Nightmare on Elm Street, Friday the 13th and, of course, Halloween gaining mass global popularity. So, while keeping to their traditional All Saints’ Day celebrations, more and more countries across Europe are beginning to embrace Halloween and its ghoulish festivities too.
Here in the UK, Halloween is a pretty big tradition. Kids get dressed up and go trick or treating – called ‘guising’ in some parts of the north, as well as in Scotland and Ireland (the name comes from children dressing up in ‘disguise’) – and many adults will head out to fancy dress parties and celebrate in other ways.
But that’s enough about us – what about the Italians? In Italy, Halloween is becoming more and more popular amongst children and teenagers, who are beginning to see just how much fun dressing up and trick or treating can be. Italians are notorious for their party hard attitude – so if Halloween gives them another excuse to have a ‘Festa’, then they’ve been reaching for it with both hands over the last few years.
In Germany, you’ll commonly see carved pumpkins adorning the windows of shops and residences as Germans get to know the year’s scariest holiday. It’s not yet tradition for kids to go trick or treating, but it seems as though the party atmosphere in Germany is immense and many Germans take the holiday as an opportunity to get dressed up in their best witch, vampire or werewolf costume and head out to any number of themed parties.
Halloween doesn’t seem to be all that popular all over the continent, sadly – but it is getting there. For example, Copenhagen in Denmark is known for throwing massive events, with Halloween in Tivoli amusement park being one of the greatest, In mid-October, Tivoli Park is transformed into an immersive Halloween world, with pumpkins, witches, scarecrows and vampires roaming around set to terrify and entertain visitors. The festival lasts until the end of the month and all rides are open late into the night. It sounds to me like this could be the winner – a two week Halloween festival! That definitely sounds like one that only hardcore Halloween fans would enjoy!