Halloween and its many faces all across the world

Food, fun and frights abound on Halloween night from Romania to India

Halloween 1964

Via Robert Couse-Baker, flickr

By: Samadrita Guin, Staff Writer

If you are a university student, you are probably visiting the Halloween stores near your house, trying to find the perfect outfit for that huge frat party on campus on October 31. On the other hand, your younger cousins can’t decide whether they want to be Spiderman or Harry Potter. Your parents are probably all caught up in transforming the front yard into a scary graveyard in the spirit of entertaining the little kids who come around the neighbourhood.

If you think that there is diversity in the way the people in your little world celebrate Halloween, oh you ain’t seen nothing yet! Halloween comes in so many different forms, ranging from different traditions and beliefs from country to country, and continent to continent. Even though the American commercialization of Halloween has influenced the way people celebrate this holiday, the essence of unique celebrations is not lost in different parts of the world.

So, before that frat party of yours, where you wake up with no memories of what went down on Halloween night, let me give you a tour of how this special day is celebrated all across the world.


Oh, Europe, with all its beautiful history and tradition! The diverse cultures of this continent have unique ways of commemorating Halloween. For starters, in Ireland, folks dress up as creatures from the paranormal world, light bonfires and enjoy fireworks displays. The Irish also bake a traditional Halloween cake, known as barmbrack and bob for apples. 

In England, bobbing for apples is also a big part of Halloween, where the participants attempt to catch apples floating in a water filled barrel using only their mouths. Other rituals in England include making toffee apples and apple tarts. 

[pullquote]Approximately $1.5 billion is spent per year on this holiday [in North America][/pullquote]

Now, Halloween in Romania is the creepiest because it is celebrated around the myth of “Dracula”. In Transylvania, there are many costume parties for teenagers and adults. Most other countries in Europe have been influenced by the American commercialization of Halloween, but these specific countries maintain their special touch of culture while celebrating this holiday. 

Central and South America

Halloween traditions of trick-or-treating remain the same in Latin America, but some cultures add a little kick of specialty food such as churros and empanadas. Little children, with their adorable shouts of “¡Dulce o Truco!” (‘Sweet or Trick!’), make the day really entertaining for adults participating in the celebrations. Themed parties and street parades are also popular ways of celebrating on this night. 


Halloween has only recently gained popularity in Asian countries, such as Japan, China, and India. In Japan, the wearing of costumes is much more limited and large-scale trick or treating is not practiced. In Hong Kong, there are two traditions. The first involves the event called “Yue Lan” (Festival of hungry ghosts). It is an opportunity to give gifts to spirits of the dead to provide them with comfort. The second event is celebrated by expatriate Americans or Canadians. Hong Kong Disneyland and Ocean Park host annual Halloween shows. Halloween has recently become a popular holiday among the young generations of India, with the cosmopolitan cities enjoy themed parties and decorations. 


Halloween in Australia is not too big, as most authorities don’t condone the spread of American culture there. Some parties are obviously part of the celebrations, but on this night when we get all decked out, Australians chose to stay in their cosy houses. 

North America

Oh USA and Oh Canada! These two countries, being the main forces behind the mass publicity of Halloween, are packed with parties, family dinners, city parades, trick-or-treating, and bonfires; approximately $1.5 billion is spent per year on this holiday. People are at the mall a month in advance of the date, trying to buy costumes, yard decorations and candy. The ridiculous amount of GDP that gets boosted by this holiday is truly quite astonishing! 

So, that’s the gist of it – all of the different traditions and environments that make Halloween so unique in so many different parts of the world. So, on behalf of Arbitrage, have an AMAZING Halloween! And don’t get too crazy….

ARB Team
Arbitrage Magazine
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