Theme: Halloween Festivals & Traditions
Continuing our 31 Days of Halloween theme, this week I’ll be posting about Halloween Festivals and Traditions in the US and abroad. Some, like the supposed “international Halloween celebrations,” aren’t 100% accurate. Just because something is celebrated on or around Halloween and may involve ghosts or demons absolutely does not mean that it’s a Halloween festival. As this video and article from the History Channel shows, Halloween comes from Celtic and Christian traditions so it’s pretty inappropriate to call something that developed in Japan or China independently a “Halloween” festival. Nevertheless, celebrations like Yu Lan Jie, Obon, and Pchum Ben are very interesting events that are worth learning about. But whether your interest is purely recreational, purely academic, or somewhere in between, you’ll definitely enjoy the following links.
First stop, America. America is pretty much the main celebrant of Halloween, and we take it very, very seriously. This year, Americans will spend over $6.9 billion on Halloween, which seems like a perfectly reasonable amount for the Best Holiday Ever. If you want to learn about some really fun-sounding festivals that I’m totally going to do this year, click here to learn about 15 Amazing Halloween Celebrations Across America. Most of them seem to be pumpkin-related, which is fine because pumpkins/jack o’lanterns are awesome.
For additional America-related Halloween celebrations, click here and here. The first link is a rather short list containing a few festivals that you might find in the other links. The second link leads you to the World’s Spookiest Halloween Festivals, which is a bit of a misnomer as it mostly contains US-based celebrations. Still, super cool and good to know about.
If you’d like to go to a site that is basically just a huge database of haunted sites, houses, paranormal hot spots, spooky movies, and everything in between, try HauntedHouses.com. It links to places all across the US and has a rather impressive collection. 100% worth the visit, especially if you have the time and means to travel a little.
Arguably one of the chief celebrants of Halloween in the US is Salem, Massachusetts, home of the infamous Salem Witch Trials of the 17th century. People there go nuts for Halloween, hosting parades, month-long celebrations, contests, food festivals, and more. Click here for the official website for Halloween in Salem.
One of the coolest things my city, Lexington, does is host a Thriller Parade every year. About a week before Halloween, the city will host a parade that involves a Michael Jackson look-a-like struting down the street followed by hundreds of shambling zombies, all of them doing the dance from Michael Jackson’s “Thriller” music video. The event gets bigger every year with thousands of people watching it, and I’ll be one of the zombies this year! Click here to learn more about the event, here to see a video of it, and here to see the original “Thriller” video.
Finally, click here and here to read about “Halloween” celebrations across the world. Some of them, like the events in Australia and Germany, align closely with Halloween’s Celtic roots while those in places like the Czech Republic and Mexico are reminescent of its Christian origins. Others, like those held in Nepal and Cambodia, are entirely separate (usually religious-based) festivals that have nothing to do with Halloween’s Celtic and Christian origins. But, like I said earlier, they are all really interesting.