Countries celebrate Halloween in different ways

Melissa Kern

As we all know Halloween is just a day away. Children across the country will be dressing up in their costumes and going trick-or-treating trying to get as much candy as they can. Most Americans have attended a Halloween party, gone to a pumpkin patch or corn maze and maybe even visited a haunted house.

While Halloween has religious connections, none of the activities that surround Halloween today tie into what most people consider as normal religious activities.

Yet in other countries Halloween is grouped into the holidays Easter and Christmas. Due to the connection between Christianity and Halloween some countries do not celebrate Halloween.

“In Saudi Arabia we do not celebrate Halloween because there is no cultural influence and it is a pagan ritual that is now connected to Christianity. It does not fit into our religion,” said Washburn Alumna Mohammed Al Haddad.

The case is similar in China where businesses just use the event to make money.

“Halloween is gaining popularity in China but mostly in shopping centers and for kindergarteners,” said Jia Feng, geography lecturer. “Many shopping malls decorate their stores or create sales events and attract kids with various candy related activities.”

Feng has one specific memory of Halloween.

“When I was in junior high in China around 1995, our English teacher hosted a Halloween party for us during the evening study hours in class. Around those years, these festivals are mostly unknown to us students in China. The party was held in secret because not many teachers viewed this celebration as appropriate since the focus should always be to study at school. After our lead teacher left office, our English teacher turned off the light, asked us to bring up the candles we all brought from home, and lit them up. She asked the biggest kid in class to dress up as a Santa Claus [yes, Santa] with a huge bag over his shoulder with all the small gifts we brought with us to class. Then she taught us some songs to sing and asked Santa to hand out the gifts around the classroom,” said Feng.

One country that does celebrate Halloween is Germany. According to Patrick Oegleklaus, industrial engineering major, they practice activities similar to the US.

“In Germany we know about Halloween and celebrate, but it is a much bigger holiday in the US. We do throw Halloween parties and go from house to house getting candy,” said Oegleklaus.

A common misconception among Americans during Halloween season is that the holiday is the same thing as Día De los Muertos, or the Day of the Dead, because Die De los Muertos begins on Oct. 31.

“Día de los Muertos is not the same as Halloween. How it is observed also varies throughout Spain and Latin America. One thing they all have in common is the belief that on this day the spirits of our ancestors who have passed away are allowed to come back to visit. In Spain, Día de los Muertos is a very somber celebration or remembering of the dead where they have very serious parades. It is not a party. In the Dominican Republic it is not as somber, but it is still about the dead not the living. We clean the cemeteries, make their favorite food and set up alters. Mexico is much different. They throw big celebrations and it is more about the living. Which includes a fiesta or celebration with food, parades, singing and dancing,” said Georgina Tenny of the foreign language department.

Whether you do or do not celebrate Halloween please be respectful of each other and be safe during this holiday.

Edited by Adam White, Brianna Smith, Jason Morrison, Jessica Galvin