Halloween is the most popular holiday in the United States, but did you know that other countries celebrate it too? Countries around the world have ways of honoring and remembering the dead during this time of year. Even different countries in Asia like to celebrate Halloween, but not in the traditional costumes-and-pumpkins way we might think.
Each October 31st, people across China celebrate Halloween, or Teng Chieh, by offering food and water to the dead. They also light lanterns with the belief that they will help to guide deceased loved ones as they make their visit to the "land of the living" in Halloween night.
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The Japanese also utilize lanterns for their Halloween customs. The lanterns are traditionally colored red and are hung in every house. These red lanterns are also placed on boats and float through rivers to guide the spirits of the dead back to the homes of their families for the night. It is also traditional for Japanese families to clean the gravestones of their ancestors and prepare special dishes to honor and remember them. These customs and traditions are all referred to in Japan as the Obon Festival.
Halloween is not big in Korea, but offerings of food and flowers are still made to their ancestors to show respect.
Hong Kong remembers their lost loved ones through a traditional festival known as the Festival of the Hungry Ghosts. During this time, pictures of fruits or money are burned with the belief that these images will reach the spirits of the dead and provide comfort.
Although many of the Halloween traditions in Asia are different from those in the United States, certain countries are beginning to pick up many Western Halloween traditions. For example, Halloween recently arrived in Japan. Now around this time of year, decorations such as jack-o'-lanterns can be seen around town of in shop windows and every year Tokyo Disneyland and Universal Studios Japan puts on extravagant Halloween shows and events. Trick-or-Treating is still not a common practice in Japan, but costume house parties aren't that uncommon.
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Besides the traditional and culture-rich Festival of the Hungry Ghosts, Hong Kong also likes to celebrate the more commercialized side of Halloween. Each year bars all across Hong Kong are decked out in Halloween decorations in an attempt to increase local interest in the holiday. Hong Kong Disneyland and Ocean Park also host a Halloween Bash each year to promote and celebrate the holiday.