Language Matters

Kathleen Stein Smith, Ph.D

Monthly Archives: October 2014

How Japan fell in love with Halloween for adults

In Tokyo, All Hallows’ Eve has gone from nonexistence to surpass New Year’s as a party and club event.

Until only recently, Japan never celebrated Halloween.

But over the past decade, Tokyo in particular has come to embrace Halloween. Or at least the grown-ups have: While there’s no such thing as “trick or treating” for the kids, adults in ever-larger numbers pull out all the stops when it comes to innovative costumes, lavish club events and all of the escapism that goes along with it.

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Day Of The Dead Brings Life To Eastern European Cemeteries

“In the Czech Republic, Slovakia, Poland, Hungary, Bulgaria, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Croatia, Lithuania, Romania, Moldova and Serbia, but also Finland, Italy, Sweden and Catholic parts of Germany, the holiday is also linked to the pre-Christian beliefs that around that time the souls of the dead relatives were returning to earth.

In most central and eastern European countries today’s Day of the Dead is a modern derivative of a Slavic holiday called Dziady, when the living would dine with the summoned ghosts of their ancestors and dead relatives. The tradition of lighting little lamps on the graves of relatives comes from the pagan ritual of lighting bonfires on burial places, as it was believed it kept the lost souls warm.

Today, American-style Halloween parties are slowly infiltrating central and eastern Europe, thought not nearly to the same extent, but the holiday is still primarily focused around the cemeteries which, for these few days in a year, are filled with life.”

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13 cool things to do in New Orleans Halloween weekend

“Halloween weekend in New Orleans:  Voodoo Fest, street parties on Bourbon and Frenchmen, a parade, live music and more.

What you should already know

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All Saints’ Day in Poland

“All Saints’ Day, observed on November 1st, is an important Polish holiday that offers Poles the opportunity to recognize the deceased. If you’re learning about Polish culture, or if you visit Poland during All Saints’ and All Souls’ Days, it’s helpful to know what this day is all about.

On this night, cemeteries are visited and candles and flowers placed on graves as the living say prayers for the deceased. The nature of the holiday does not dictate that only family members’ graves are decorated; old and forgotten graves and the graves of strangers are also visited. On a national level, the graves of important Poles and military tombs are honored.

Halloween is not observed in Poland like it is in the United States, but All Saints’ Day recalls the ancient aspect of the Halloween tradition that describes how the world of the living and the world of the dead collide.”

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Halloween around the World (photos)

Halloween in Scandinavia

“While Halloween is very popular in the US, Scandinavia has only recently started to embrace Halloween and celebrate this annual event the way it is celebrated in other regions.

Halloween parties with scary costumes are now becoming much more popular with each year, and you will see Halloween-themed decorations and even a few pumpkins here and there. But, all in all, this day is still relatively quiet and you shouldn’t expect this day to be a big event in the Scandinavian countries.

If you happen to be in Denmark around Halloween, visit Copenhagen‘s Tivoli amusement park, which celebrates Halloween in Tivoli and Christmas in Tivoli with lots of seasonal activities and festivities, many open rides and additional opening days/hours!

Instead of wide-spread halloween decor and trick-or-treating, there is All Saints’ Day after Halloween, a quiet holiday in memory of loved ones that passed away.”

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Halloween in Germany

“Many Germans have embraced Halloween. Others, especially those of the older generation, believe that Halloween is just some more American hype. Though the commercialism of Halloween does indeed stem from North America, the tradition and celebration itself had its origins in Europe.

Halloween has gained much popularity in the past decade. In fact this celebration now brings in an astounding 200 million euros a year according to the Stuttgarter Zeitung, the third most commercialized tradition after Christmas and Easter. ”

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Halloween and Day of the Dead in Spain

“As recently as the 1990s, Halloween in Europe was seen as largely a children’s event, with the under-12s going trick or treating with their parents, but largely passing the adult population by. And so it was in Spain.

However, every year more and more Halloween-themed events take place in cities around Spain, particularly the larger cities such as Madrid and Barcelona. Expect costume parties and themed events in many of the nightspots in town.

One reason that partying has become more popular on Halloween is that the following day, All Saints’ Day, is a public holiday. The night before most public holdays in Spain (vísperas de festivo) are treated like a Saturday night, with people taking advantage of not needing to go into work or school the next day by partying all night long.”

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Day of the Dead Honors the Deceased (Mexico)

“At first glance, the Mexican custom of the Día de Muertos — the Day of the Dead — may sound much like the U.S. custom of Halloween. After all, the celebration traditionally starts at midnight the night of Oct. 31, and the festivities are abundant in images related to death.

But the customs have different origins, and their attitudes toward death are different: In the typical Halloween festivities, death is something to be feared. But in the Día de Muertos, death — or at least the memories of those who have died — is something to be celebrated.”

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Hill of Ward: Did Halloween begin on ‘magical’ ancient site? (Northern Ireland)

“On a high hill top in the mists of ancient Ireland thousands of years ago, a druid set light to a huge bonfire and the feast of Halloween was born.

In the 17th Century, historian Geoffrey Keating wrote of the feast of Samhain, the pre-Christian forerunner of Halloween, and the fierce fire on a hill in Meath.

The celebration of the harvest is enshrined in the modern day Halloween in Ireland.

Apples play a central role in parties. A basin is filled with water and apples are put into it. People have to dunk for the apples by plunging their faces into the basin and removing them with their mouths – no hands allowed.

Apples are also hung from the ceiling on strings and, again, without using your hands, you jump and try to take a bite.

Part of the traditional Halloween feast is the apple cake. Coins are hidden inside as a surprise.

A fruit bread called brack is also served and at Halloween, the tradition is to hide a brass ring inside – whoever gets the ring in their slice, will be married soon.

Irish writer James Joyce wrote about Halloween in his short story, Clay, in the Dubliners collection.”

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