With Halloween traditions varying across the globe, we’re here to tell you which countries think Halloween is hot, and which think it’s not. Or rather, where it’s ghoulish and where it’s just plain foolish. The following five countries cover the spectrum when it comes to Halloween from those who hand out candy to trick-or-treaters to those who call the cops on them.
5. Switzerland. Maybe it’s because they are surrounded by chocolate all year round, but Switzerland’s Halloween is on the decline. When “a need for rituals” brought Halloween to Switzerland in 1999, the Swiss went all out. But lately the Swiss are not amused by sheets with holes in them. No longer wooed by witches and delighted by Dracula, Halloween has become an added burden to the Swiss’s already full festival schedule. St. Nicholas Day, on December 6th, brings traditions similar to American Halloween, with children receiving treats such as gingerbread, nuts, and tangerines (explains why Europeans are less obese than Americans). Between that and a be-costumed February festival, the Swiss are keener to embrace older cultural and religious traditions. So while they haven’t completely dropped Halloween like a sack of dismembered body parts, the holiday’s future in Switzerland is (semi-appropriately) grim.
4. Australia. Australia is a little late coming to the Halloween party. By now, four kids have already vomited up M&Ms and mini hotdogs and the bobbing-for-apples water is filled with all kinds of saliva-borne diseases. They didn’t forget their costume, however. Australians have begun to celebrate Halloween very similar to the way in which Americans celebrate the holiday. Candy, costumes, and pumpkin carving abound, but Halloween is not considered a public holiday down under. So while most Australians are throwing shrimp on the barbie, on October 31st you may be able to find some Aussies dressed like Malibu Barbie.
3. Mexico. Mexico gets bonus points for their Halloween equivalent’s appearance in a classic episode of Lizzie McGuire. Now that Lizzie, Gordo, and Miranda have saved the day (Day of the Dead, that is) we can get down to business. Día de los Muertos, as it is referred to in Mexico, commemorates those who have died. While American Halloween focuses on the frightening aspect of death (haunted mazes, anyone?), Día de los Muertos celebrates the deceased with altars and offerings. Sure, a cemetery doesn’t seem like the ideal place for a feast of Mucbil chicken over a vase of marigolds, but think of it as breakfast in bed for long lost loved ones. The holiday corresponds with the Catholic All Souls’ Day on November 2nd, and preparations begin in the third week of October as Mexicans fondly remember the lives of the dead with poems, jokes, and stories. With the enthusiasm that Mexicans celebrate this holiday, we say, let the Day of the Dead live on.
2. United States. Many countries around the world take cues from American Halloween traditions, though the holiday didn’t originate in the United States. This is a scary thought since that means the world is looking toward a nation with a quarter of its population dressed like a Playboy bunny. But Americans are nothing if not festive, and the extent to which the United States celebrates Halloween remains strong throughout the years. Decorations and festivals coat almost the entire month of October. People carve Jack-O-Lanterns out of pumpkins and offer up their mother to zombies in haunted houses. But one aspect of Halloween in America stands out above all else: candy. Children (and cheap, sweet-toothed adults) trick-or-treat, traveling from house to house collecting candy from neighbors. And while this may not seem any different from street begging, there is chocolate and glimpses of pagan tradition involved, so it is hardly the same at all. Candy fuels this nighttime holiday, and Americans don’t hold back. Nearly 600 million pounds of candy are purchased in the United States every Halloween, which equals about 60,000 forest elephants (that is, if forest elephants could melt and were filled with caramel and nougat…and we all know that elephants can’t melt). So it’s no surprise that every October 31st, Americans celebrate Halloween with an enthusiasm that only twelve Snickers bars, nine bags of Skittles, eight handfuls of candy corn, three Milky Ways, and half an Almond Joy (with the almond picked off…protein is for squares) can produce.
1. Ireland. While it’s all too easy to picture an entire country of people dressed up like the Lucky Charms icon, it’s only fitting that Ireland makes the top of our list. Ireland may have dibs on St. Patrick’s Day, but they also take the cake as the birthplace of our beloved Halloween. Originally referred to as Samhain, meaning “end of summer” in old Irish, Halloween has been celebrated in Ireland since around 100AD. Originally thought to be the day that dead spirits roamed about the mortal world, the holiday has developed into the holiday celebrated in the United States today. Jack-O-Lanterns, trick-or-treating, and bonfires are all common practices. Among Irish traditions is the Barnbrack, fruit bread complete with a coin, a rag, a ring, and a thimble baked inside. Yes, we think it should be renamed to Crazy Irish Choking Hazard Bread, too. Not only is the treat filled with oh-so-scrumptious danger, but it also comes with fortune cookie wisdom (aka accurate predictions of your future). Get a slice with the coin and expect riches; the rag symbolizes money troubles; the ring means a proposal within the year; and the thimble dooms you to be a single sucker for the year (and apparently you should use the time you aren’t spending with a significant other sewing yourself a nice pair of slacks).