News & Stories/2020

Traditional Halloween Costumes around the World

Halloween – or ‘Day of the Dead’ as it’s called in some other countries – originated from the ancient Celtic ‘Samhain’ festival in Ireland hundreds of years ago! It was originally a day to mark the start of the ‘darker half’ of the year, or ‘Winter’ as we now call it. Historically, people believed that spirits could come alive again at this time of year, which is where the tradition of dressing up derived from – people used to dress up to disguise themselves from the spirits.

Now you’ll know that in the UK people wear a variety of different costumes, from Frankenstein and ghouls, to werewolves and black cats. However, the costume variety isn’t as broad across the globe. Take a look at some of the more traditional costumes in different countries below.

Germany: Witches
Celebration: Walpurgisnacht

30th April is Walpurgisnacht in Germany, where many people dress as witches and climb the Harz Mountains. Essential attire includes a long skirt, pointed hat and a broomstick – you could even add on a green wart-covered nose too!

Romania: Vampires
Celebration: Halloween

With Transylvania being where the vampire craze started, of course people dress up as them for Halloween! The most famous vampire is Dracula – if you haven’t heard of him I suggest you leave the house more often – and people in Romania often recreate his appearance by wearing smart clothes, a cape, donning fangs and recreating his pale skin through the use of makeup

Nigeria: Spirits of the Dead
Celebration: Odo Festival

Nigeria’s Odo festival takes place every two years and celebrates the return of the dead. This festival is longer than ‘Halloween’ in the UK, with it taking place over six months! People representing returning spirits decorate costumes with feathers, leaves and other plant materials and wear ornate masks. Others dress up as evil spirits, wearing black costumes covered in thorns.

Mexico: Skeletons
Celebration: Dia de los Muertos

If you like elaborate make up, then this is the place for you! Mexican residents paint their faces to look like skeletons and honour their departed loved ones. People buy highly decorated sugar skulls to represent family members who have passed away. Apparently, people work for up to six months to make enough sugar skulls for this event – yummy!

Japan: Ghosts
Celebration: Obon Festival

Unlike Halloween in the UK, Japan’s Obon Festival takes place in August and people traditionally dress up as ghosts. It is common for people to have messy hair, put on white makeup in order to make their faces appear ghostly and wear burial kimonos. Apparently the young girl on the film ‘The Ring’ is a perfect example of how people dress during this festival – definitely one I will pass on then!

Guatemala, Central America: Devil
Celebration: La Quema del Diablo

Red is the colour of choice for this festival. Red horns, red painted faces and red pointed tails are all common costume accessories. Pitchforks and capes also make several appearances. However, don’t make yourself look too realistic as ‘La Quema Del Diablo’ actually translates to ‘the burning of the devil’.

So there you have it – now you know how people dress for Halloween in different places around the world. If this hasn’t given you any costume inspiration then I don’t know what will! If you’re currently using your TEFL qualification to teach abroad and will be celebrating Halloween or a similar festival, we’d love to hear from you! If you’re in the UK reading this blog, why don’t you get out there and explore the thousands of festivals across the globe?

A TEFL qualification is the perfect excuse to travel and get paid to do so! Take a look at our upcoming courses here and it could be you celebrating Odo Festival or Walpurgisnacht next year!

Anyway, cheerio! I’m off to trick or treat in my pumpkin outfit.