Halloween traditions in Europe

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I know I wrote about Halloween fairly recently, but since it’s one of my favourite holidays, I’m going to write about it again. In my post about Halloween last month, I spoke mainly about Halloween traditions in America – big, bold and beastly. The Americans really know how to party at Halloween, almost to the extent of outdoing the rest of the world – which is why I decided to check out how Europe celebrates Halloween to see if there’s a worthy challenger to our stateside friends that I’d missed.

As Halloween has its roots originally in the UK, I thought that Europe should have plenty to offer – and it looks like my suspicions were correct. France seems to be one of the main players in Halloween parties, though it seems like celebrations on the continent seem to be a fairly new trend. In any case, Europe is catching up – and having a lot of fun while doing so.

Although still developing its Halloween antics, France appears to be a European leader and now the holiday attracts lots of attention as well as extensive preparations. Chocolatiers get to work creating intricate Halloween themed chocolates, using their expertise to get the designs just right, and Paris opens its doors to tourists looking for a spooky holiday by holding various events for visitors and locals alike. The main event during France’s Halloween is All Saints’ Day, a day dedicated to honouring the dead. This day was actually created by Pope Boniface IV in order to crush the ancient pagan festival of Samhain – so it’s interesting to see that many European countries are beginning to combine the two after hundreds of years of separation.

If you’re interested in cemeteries November 1 is the day to go, as thousands of French people decorate the graves and tombs of loved ones with beautiful floral displays.

All Saints’ Day is mirrored throughout the European tradition, to greater or lesser degrees. For example, in Portugal, Halloween is still not a tremendous event, but on this day – November 1 – children travel from door to door during the daytime trick or treating to be awarded with fruit, nuts and small cakes.

In Spain, it’s easy to guess that All Saints’ Day is embraced with much passion by the Spanish population. Like their French counterparts, Spanish people take the opportunity to visit the graves of loved ones and endow them with lavish decorations, including gorgeous flowers and lanterns that remain to light up the night, when sometimes prayers are said.

Hmm, I think I’m going to keep researching this – it’s throwing up some really fascinating facts. Be sure to tune in soon to see what else I find.

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