Weirdest Halloween traditions and festivities in Europe
From ancient origins to trick or treating, Halloween is a festival steeped in in the bizarre. Creep with us through some of Europe’s strangest celebrations, and get your fangs into the wildest Halloween tradition with our very own Barcelona Ghost Hunt.
It’s that time of year again when for reasons long forgotten people all over the world dress up in costumes and pursue all things creepy and haunting. It’s believed that the origins of Halloween come from a 2,000 year old Celtic festival, Samhain, which celebrated the end of the harvest season and the start of a new year. The Celts believed that on the night before the new year the dead were able to return to earth as ghosts. They wanted to appease the ghosts because ghosts are scary, so the smart people would leave food and wine on their doorsteps because food and wine keeps everyone happy. They would also disguise themselves as ghosts when leaving the house during Samhain in order to ensure no harm would come to them should they encounter any unhappy spirits without food and/or wine. Yes Halloween is a weird holiday, so let’s check out the weirdest ways this weird holiday is celebrated throughout Europe today.
Hiding of the knives in Germany
Going along with the belief that dead relatives visit on Halloween, many Germans will hide all the knives in their homes to make sure the ghosts don’t hurt themselves. Or maybe they’re actually afraid that said dead relative is holding a grudge and would use the knives against them if presented with the opportunity? I prefer to believe the latter.
Night of the Pumpkins in Northern Spain
October 31st is the Night of the Pumpkins for Spaniards in the Galician region. On this night, they carve pumpkins, have costume parties, bonfires and trick-or-treating. Nothing really weird about that so far. The weird part comes with the customary alcoholic drink they make, quemada, which they drink out of pumpkins after reciting a spell, esconxuro, that’s supposed to offer protection against evil. Expecto patronum!
Fave dei Morti in Italy
Literally translated to “beans of the dead”, fave dei morti is just a morbid name for seemingly delicious fava bean-shaped sugar cookies consumed during the Italian Day of the Dead. The significance being due to the ancient belief that souls of the dead resided in fava beans, which allowed for a connection between the worlds of the living and the dead. So eat cookies and be able to talk to the dead, that’s not weird at all.
La Castañada in Catalunya
La Castañada (the chestnut) is a traditional festival celebrated in the Catalan region of Spain on October 31st. Festivities feature the likes of roasted chestnuts, sweet potatoes, and small almond ball cakes called panellets, all accompanied by the sweet traditional wine, moscatell. This tradition seems to come from bell ringers in the past supposedly staying up all night ringing bells to commemorate the dead while friends and relatives brought them these foods for sustenance. Yum!
Ghost Scavenger Hunt in Barcelona
It’s no secret that Barcelona’s history is rife with mysteries and haunted sites. What better way to explore these local legends than with a weird and wild scavenger hunt through the haunted streets of Barcelona’s Gothic Quarter?! On October 31st, weirdos and freaks from around the world flock to Barcelona to partake in the mission of unlocking the creepy secrets of Barcelona’s past (and win awesome prizes along the way!) with maps, clues, costumes, face-painting, and copious amounts of liquid courage (read beer and sangria) to fuel through the night. It’s believed that the origin of this festivity stems from a few curious Barcelonians with a reckless yearning to uncover the truths behind Barcelona’s spooky legends.
Feeling brave? Join Stoke’s Ghost Hunt for the weirdest Halloween of your life!