Halloween Around the World
American-style Halloween celebrations take place all over the world.Corbis Images
In the United States, Halloween marks the end of October. It's a holiday in which American children across the country exercise their God-given right to wear costume, consume candy and enjoy induced, post-sugar-high comas.
American-style Halloween first emerged in the early 20th century and came to resemble the modern celebration in the 1930s, when trick-or-treating first became popular.
Naturally, a holiday that involves free candy and costumed revelry would be too good to keep to ourselves. In this slideshow, explore other countries that have gotten in on this sweet Halloween action.
A display of Halloween masks appears in a store window in Ireland.Corbis Images
Halloween traces its origins back to the Celtic tradition of Samhain, a pagan festival marking the end of the harvest and the beginning of winter.
Given its Gaelic roots, Ireland would be a natural place for Halloween to be widely celebrated, and the occasion is marked in much the same fashion as in the United States. Families dress up in scary costumes, carve pumpkins (or turnips, as is the Irish custom), and attend carnivals and parades.
Irish Halloween celebrations also typically include lighting of bonfires and fireworks, a throwback to a custom from the pagan traditions.
A smiling jack-o-lantern poses in front of the Eiffel Tower.Corbis Images
While the French may make a show of detesting American cultural exports, frankly (or Francly) they can't seem to resist. Halloween is no exception.
Starting in 1982, a restaurant in Paris called the American Dream began celebrating Halloween, explaining the custom to both French and foreign patron alike. The holiday eventually took hold.
France was among the first countries in continental Europe to adopt Halloween in the 1990s, and several others would later follow suit.
A Mexican girl is dressed up for the Dias de los Muertos.Corbis Images
Although Halloween is celebrated in Mexico on Oct. 31, the festivities really begin in the days that follow.
Starting the day after Halloween, Mexico's Los Dias de los Muertos, or the Mexican Days of the Dead, is a celebration that combines elements of Aztec and Mayan traditions with European-influenced Christian holidays.
Taking place over All Saints Day and All Souls Day, spirits of the dead are invited back to the homes of the families to whom they belong. Families celebrate by visiting graves of deceased relatives and adorning them with decorations. Candies shaped like skeletons and ghouls are also made for the occasion in the spirit of the holiday.
The Days of the Dead are among the biggest celebrations on the calendar in Mexico, with feasts, dancing and drinking taking place in venues nationwide.
A German theme park prepares for the Halloween holiday with a giant jack-o-lantern decoration.Corbis Images
An American tradition imported after World War II, Halloween was not a familiar holiday to most Germans until the 1990s, when a single marketing ploy led to the ever-increasing popularity of this occasion.
In the early 1990s, toy makers and party suppliers were looking to increase demand for their products, leading public relations professional Dieter Tschorn and other marketers to adopt Halloween, according to Der Spiegel.
The move proved a resounding success, creating an industry worth around 160 million euros ($200 million) in 2008. Thanks to Tschorn, "tens of thousands of German children now go door-to-door, holding out their bags and saying 'sweet or sour,' the German version of trick-or-treat."
Children march in costume in a Halloween parade in Japan.Corbis Images
Halloween isn't quite yet big in Japan, but it's an increasingly popular holiday every year.
Kotaku's Brian Ashcraft credits Halloween's growing buzz in Japan to the effort of Tokyo Disneyland and Universal Studios Japan, which for the last 13 years have held ever larger holiday-themed events. The holiday has caught hold as a kid's holiday that mimics the traditions in the United States.
For adults, the spooky season begins in August with the Obon.
The Obon, also known as the Festival of the Dead or the Festival of Lanterns, is a tradition in Japan in which the souls of the dead return to the land of the living. Despite the otherworldly element to the festival, the event isn't designed to frighten, but rather be a time in which spirits reunite with their families.
At sunset, families place lanterns outside their houses to help spirits find their way back to the afterlife. Some households even prepare altars onto which offerings of food are placed. At the end of the festival, paper lanterns of different colors are floated on water, symbolizing a return of the spirits back to the land of the dead.
A Chinese boy is dressed for a Halloween costume event at a park in Hong Park.Corbis Images
Like Japan, Halloween arrived in China by way of American theme parks and ex-pats who carried the tradition with them. The holiday, however, doesn't have much of a following outside of large cities like Shanghai, Beijing or Hong Kong.
Instead, China has its own celebrations whose themes are akin to those invoked in Halloween. Yu Lan, also known as the Feast of the Hungry Ghost, is an occasion to remember dead relatives of generations past.
The festival has similar rituals to Obon, in that food and water is left for hungry spirits. And at the end of the festival, lanterns are lit and sent over water to help the spirits find their way back to the afterlife.