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Celebrating Halloween
Celebrating Halloween

Often seen as a North American celebration that has slowly grown in popularity across the world, there is a lot of fun to be had at Halloween.

Come the last day in October, children (and many adults!) all over the world put on scary costumes and head out in search of sweet treats, passing by homes and gardens decorated with carved pumpkins and cobwebs. Horror films are watched and ghost stories are told - all to commemorate All Hallow's Eve; the night dedicated to remembering the dead.

The celebration and its traditions are believed to stem from Celtic harvest festivals - not North American religions - and the USA is not the only country that has taken the idea of Halloween and made it their own. In fact, many countries across the world mark the day (or the original sentiment behind the day) with their own traditions. Here are some of our favourites.

What are widely considered conventional Halloween celebrations are growing in popularity in Germany, with children trick-or-treating and adults hosting fancy dress parties - but there is a very similar celebration that takes place just 12 days later.

Halloween Lanterns

Occurring on the 11th November, St Martin's Day - or Martinstag - sees children parade the streets in memory of the saint, carrying paper lanterns (usually created and decorated by hand at school). Along with the procession, food is an important part of St Martin's Day. Traditionally, you can expect to eat goose served with dumplings and red cabbage.

It doesn't share the same name or the date of Halloween, but China's Hungry Ghost Festival is the closest similar event.

Taking place on the 15th day of the 7th lunar month, the day is set aside to mark a bridge between the living and the dead, and this means that, for many, the period is spent honouring deceased ancestors. Lots of people also take extra precautions around this time to avoid doing anything dangerous, as ghosts are believed to travel freely during the festival, causing havoc and chaos as they go.

The Day of Hungry Ghosts

On the Day of Hungry Ghosts, people burn symbolic pieces of paper that look like money, incense is often lit and food is left out as a gesture - all in an effort to avoid any negative spiritual activity and make any earthbound spirits feel welcome.

With around 88% of the Italian population identifying as Roman Catholics, it is not too surprising that the holiday of Halloween is one of Italy's lesser-celebrated holidays. However, there are two days at the beginning of November that are dedicated to remembering those that have passed away - All Saints (or, Ognissanti) on the first day of the month, and i Morti on the second.

For All Saints day, homes are decorated with chrysanthemums (a flower that simultaneously symbolises goodness and joy with mourning and emotion), and many families light a single red candle that sits in the window. Different regions of Italy celebrate the days with different dishes, and in many places, pumpkins are laid out in the streets - a tradition that far outdates modern American pumpkin carving. Children also go door-to-door for treats and bonfires are lit - just without the scary costumes!

Are you hoping to travel anywhere this Halloween? If so, make sure you look at ways that you can join in the local celebrations with you before you leave. You can find all of our Kempinski destinations here - Happy Halloween!

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