15 Unusual Halloween Traditions from Around the world

Welcome to a journey into the world of unusual Halloween traditions –  a time when the extraordinary and peculiar take the spotlight.

As fall sets in and nights grow longer, different cultures embrace the eerie and unique in their own distinct ways. While we’re familiar with costumes, candy, and haunted houses, there’s a fascinating array of uncommon rituals that defy the norm. In this exploration, we’ll uncover curious practices that make Halloween an enchanting celebration like no other. Halloween is on October 31st, followed by All Saints Day on November 1st, and All Souls Day on November 2nd, so there are lots of traditions associated with time of year.

halloween carved pumpkin on wooden floor

Join us as we delve into the intriguing world of fall traditions, adding a delightful twist to this spooky season, with these 15 unusual Halloween traditions from various parts of the world.

  1. Día de los Muertos (Day of the Dead) – Mexico: Celebrated from October 31 to November 2, this tradition involves creating altars to honor and remember deceased loved ones, along with marigold decorations, sugar skulls, and sharing food at gravesites.
  2. Halloween Mask Parade – Kawasaki, Japan:  In this tradition, thousands of participants dress up in elaborate costumes and masks, parading through the city of Kawasaki to celebrate Halloween.
  3. Barnbrack (Barmbrack) – Ireland: A traditional fruitcake is baked with symbolic items (like a ring for marriage or a coin for wealth) hidden inside. The item received in your slice is believed to foretell your future. Traditional foods are often associated with Halloween (candy apples, pumpkin pie, and candy corn).
  4. Kentucky’s Trunk-or-Treat – United States: Instead of traditional trick-or-treating, many communities organize “Trunk-or-Treat” events in parking lots, where cars are decorated, and kids go from car to car for treats.
  5.  La Castanyada – Catalonia, Spain: Celebrated on Halloween night, people enjoy roasted chestnuts and sweet potatoes. It’s also a time to remember loved ones who have passed away.
  6. Pangangaluluwa – Philippines: Children and sometimes adults go door-to-door, often in costumes, singing traditional songs in exchange for prayers for souls in purgatory and small gifts or food.
  7. Samhain Bonfires – Ireland and Scotland: Huge communal bonfires are lit to mark the end of the harvest season and to ward off evil spirits as the ancient Celtic festival of Samhain commences.
  8. Candy Exchange – Sweden: Children in Sweden dress up in costumes and go from shop to shop, trading drawings or “trick or treat” for candy. It’s similar to trick-or-treating but involves a creative exchange.
  9. The Great Pumpkin Commonwealth Weigh-Off – Various Locations: In this tradition, giant pumpkin enthusiasts gather to weigh and compete with their colossal pumpkins, sometimes weighing over a ton, in hopes of winning prizes and recognition.
  10. Dress as a Dead Relative – Czech Republic: Some Czechs visit cemeteries on Halloween night, dressing up as deceased family members to honor and remember their loved ones.
  11. Beggars’ Night – Ohio, Unit4ed States: Instead of traditional trick-or-treating on Halloween, many communities in Ohio celebrate “Beggars’ Night” where children tell jokes or perform a “trick” to receive treats.
  12. Souling – United Kingdom: Originating in medieval Britain, “souling” involved people, often children, going door-to-door singing for soul cakes (small round cakes) in exchange for prayers for the souls of their dead relatives.
  13. Rolling Eggs – Waterford, Ireland: On Halloween night, people in Waterford roll hard-boiled eggs down a hill in a game known as “rolling eggs” or “egg-throwing,” a traditional pastime.
  14. Chestnut Roasting – Portugal: In Portugal, roasted chestnuts are a popular Halloween treat, symbolizing the transition from autumn to winter.
  15. Duck Apple Night – England: In this traditional game, apples are hung from a string, and participants try to bite the apples without using their hands. It’s a challenging and entertaining Halloween activity.

What’s your favorite Halloween celebration?

Mary Jo Manzanares