Special Report

27 Cool and Creepy Halloween Traditions From Around the World

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1. Austria
> Tradition: Leaving bread and water for the spirits

Austrians celebrates Seleenwoche, or All Souls’ Week, between Oct. 30 and Nov. 8. On the night of Oct. 31, an old practice is to leave bread and water out on a table, and light a lamp, to welcome and nourish the souls of the dead.

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2. Bolivia
> Tradition: Decorating real human skulls

Bolivians observe the Fiesta de las Ñatitas on Nov. 8 each year by decorating skulls — real ones, either from deceased family members or obtained from medical schools or old cemeteries — with flowers, jewelry, hats, and glasses. The skulls are called ñatitas, which means roughly “the little pug-nosed ones.” The festival has roots in pre-Columbian times.

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3. Cambodia
> Tradition: honoring departed ancestors with food

Pchum Ben is a Cambodian Buddhist festival. It’s observed over a three-day period in September or October during which the gates of hell are said to open to let the spirits out to receive food offerings from their relatives. Ancestors are honoured going back as far as seven generations. Celebrants rise early in the morning to cook rice balls and other food items, which they bring to temples and pagodas.

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4. China
> Tradition: honoring departed family members

While Americans and other expats in China often observe Halloween in traditional fashion, there is a local equivalent called Ghost Festival: Teng Chieh, which is celebrated on the 15th day of the seventh lunar month. Food and water are placed in front of photographs of family members who have departed, and lanterns are lit to guide the spirits wandering the earth.

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5. Czech Republic
> Tradition: putting chairs around the fireplace

Czechs observe Dušičky, or the Day of the Dead, on Nov. 2. One old custom is to place chairs around the fireplace, one for each living family member and one for each departed one. People also visit graves and adorn them with flowers and candles.