by Ben Cripps
“What is Halloween?” asked Paul Kuangmia, 16, a freshman at Whatcom Community College from Bangkok, Thailand.
Widely celebrated as an American holiday, “All Hallows Eve” is experienced by peoples and cultures across the globe.
The end-of-harvest-season-holiday derives its origins from the Irish festival welcoming Samhain, the Celtic God of the Dead. From Oct. 31 through Nov. 2, the ancient Gaelic peoples held bonfires on the hilltops, paying homage to the coming winter months and the ancient spirits that were released into the world for those few days.
However, Halloween has evolved into a major western celebration including harvest-parties and “trick-or-treating.” Here’s how other cultures around the world celebrate:
In Thailand, the general population doesn’t celebrate Halloween, but small house parties can be found where people dress up said Annie Thardomong, 18, an international freshman at Whatcom. People who celebrate believe that ghosts enter the living world and it’s recommended to “not sleep alone,” she adds.
The Americanized version of Halloween reached the shores of Vietnam within the past five years, says Tracy Huynh, 19, an international student at Whatcom from Hồ Chí Minh, Vietnam. In cities, where more Vietnamese youth reside, people will dress up and attend parties and can also be seen riding their motorbikes in costume.
“The older people might think you’re crazy, but the younger people will know,” said Cecilia Phan, 23, from Hồ Chí Minh. Humorously, she adds, “Americans have a lot of holidays.”
In Sicily, Italy, Halloween is viewed similarly to Easter. Presents are found outside children’s doors in the morning which have been left by deceased relatives whose spirits enter the living world on All Saints Day.
Mexicans similarly welcome “The Day of the Dead” with photos of deceased family members, candy and flowers. Candles are lit in the evening to pay homage to the passing night spirits.
Whatcom’s Office of Student Life will host Zombie Prom – Halloween Dance in the Syre Student Center from 9 p.m. to 12 a.m. Friday, Oct. 28. The International Friendship Club will host a “pumpkin carving with sweets,” on Halloween Monday, said IFC advisor Ulli Schrami.