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Halloween: a tradition that is typically associated with our friends across the pond, despite being of Irish origins. Due to its Americanisation can we now say that Halloween has been well and truly popularized into a mere game of trick-o-treating, or do traditions still linger in some far-flung corners of the globe?
In fact, Halloween traditions are very much alive and soon to be in full swing. Just south of the American border in Mexico and Latin America and over in Spain, a three day celebration gets underway from the 31st of October to the 2nd of November. ‘Dia de los Muertos,’ as the holiday is termed, literally means ‘Day of the Dead’ in English, and is a holiday that honours dead ancestors and loved ones. Altars are decorated in the home with candles and incense is burnt to guide the spirits to their earthly home. On the 2nd of November, family members gather at the grave to pay their respects.
Another collection of countries that celebrate Halloween in their somewhat traditional style is Scandinavia. Americanised Halloween culture is still rather new in this corner of the globe, as a tourist you would only spot the occasional Halloween themed shop. That being said, in recent years celebrations have become more popular, for instance in Copenhagen pumpkin carving takes place in the Tivoli Gardens. And in Stockholm, the largest celebration in Scandinavia takes place with a parade on the 1st November. These celebrations are similar to ‘fastelavn,’ another dress-up occasion, which takes place earlier in the year. Children dress up, treats are given out, and the festival’s symbol is a black cat… sound familiar?
Wherever you are this year embody these local traditions, before we all live in an Americanised Halloween and it’s too late.
Written by Hope Brotherton
The UoB Linguist Magazine
Guild of Students,
University of Birmingham