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What Halloween and other celebrations look like around the world

October 31, 2021
<p>Illustration by Madison Echlin.</p>

Illustration by Madison Echlin.

As more of western culture starts to spread around the world, so does Halloween. 

A largely western celebration that originated in Ireland, Halloween was brought to the United States by immigrants during the Irish potato famine. 

Now the event is spreading even farther around the world, with many countries and cultures adopting the event and making it their own. 

Business sophomore and president of the Indian Student Organization Lavaanya Jain said that while Halloween is not widely celebrated yet in India, metropolitan areas are taking part in the celebration a little bit more now.

“It’s popular because of the internet, awareness and getting to know the world or know more about things that are happening around the world," Jain said. "So metropolitan cities or big cities that are like more developed, they have more resources and people have a different mindset, that they want to learn more about the world and adapt to different things.”

Jain said she thinks India’s more rural areas are a little more closed off to international celebrations. The internet, she said, is leading to so much awareness, that she believes the country is two years out of having Halloween being widely celebrated.

Other nations and cultures have started to make the celebration their own. Doctoral student Carolina Vargas said that in Colombia Halloween is also celebrated in bigger cities. The capital city, Bogotá, has an annual zombie march around Halloween, where over 40,000 people dress up as zombies and roam the streets. Vargas said that while she has never taken part in this tradition, she has friends who took part in it.

Vargas said while Halloween is not widespread in Columbia, because of the heavy presence of voodoo in the Caribean, there are witches who many people are superstitious of around Halloween.

“They’re like, ‘If you have a black cat, don’t let them outside,’” she said. “I don’t know if this actually happens, it’s just a superstition. (They say) ‘Be careful because they might get your black cat for sacrifice.’”

Vargas said that the reason people are superstitious is that witches are trying to do all their witchcraft because Halloween is the day before All Saints’ Day, a Catholic holiday widely celebrated in Colombia.

Third-year law student Arnulfo Caballero said that some people in northern Mexico would celebrate Halloween, mostly through dressing up and partying. The main holiday celebrated during this time is Día de Los Muertos, or Day of the Dead. 

Caballero said that Día de Los Muertos traditions are a mixture between All Souls Day and pre-Hispanic Mesoamerican traditions around honoring families.

“It’s a really colorful, very joyful reminiscent holiday because you’re not just getting sad because your family members passed away,” Caballero said. “You’re happy because of the life they lived and you’re remembering them. If you continue to honor them, they will have a great afterlife.”

There are some devout Catholics that do not celebrate Halloween because they see it as the Devil’s holiday. Caballero said when he was younger and his school would have costume contests, some kids would come to school on Halloween in regular clothes because their families would not allow them to dress up.

Jain said the prominent festival that happens among Indians around Halloween is Diwali. This celebration is a spiritual victory of light over darkness, and that it is one of the biggest festivals where everyone gets together and celebrates.

“Diwali is a day where everyone’s happy,” Jain said. “You just feel it in the vibe and the environment. People love to come together and this is one festival that everyone looks forward to it.”

When celebrating Halloween, people should remain cognizant that many cultures' traditional outfits and regalia have been appropriated for use as Halloween costumes. Many people of these cultures see this as inappropriate.

People should be considerate before deciding to dress up in one of these outfits and think about how their actions and dress take away from the meaning and value attributed to these traditional outfits.

The Indian Student Organization will have a Diwali Night on Friday, Nov. 5 from 6:30 p.m. to 10:30 p.m.

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