Travel vs Halloween vs All Saints Day

by Dave from The Longest Way Home ~ October 31st, 2010. Updated on November 2nd, 2010. Published in: Travel blog » How to live overseas.
Halloween Pumpkin Head in The Philippines!

Dark Eyed Halloween Pumpkin Head in The Philippines!

Halloween around the world

It’s October 31st and there’s a raging thunderstorm as I write this. It is of course Halloween so I couldn’t ask for a more atmospheric condition. So long as the electricity does not go out again.

As a long term traveler Halloween is my favorite time of year. This may sound a little strange, but there is a reason behind this that’s not so physically macabre.

Why Halloween is my favorite holiday when traveling

There are many holidays / events around the world that a traveler will bump into. Some can be good, others can be bad. Christmas, Ramadan, Easter, are all long holiday periods that you should really look out for in your plans.

Problems with travel and celebrations

Christmas/New Years in many countries mean nearly a week or more of closed shops, tours, overbooked transportation and booked out hotels. Ramadan in some countries means you might have problems finding food during the day, and at the end of Ramadan, there’s a big celebration leading to more booked out transport etc. Easter can be the surprise entry here that many people forget, with some devoutly Catholic countries shutting nearly completely down during a week of public holidays.

With Halloween, everything is generally okay. Unlike many many celebrations it’s a fixed date. And, it’s generally not a public holiday, although All Saints Day quite often is.

What to do on Halloween when traveling?

Many travelers in popular areas will celebrate with each other. Some by dressing up in makeshift costumes, others will join big parties at bars an clubs.

Filipinos visiting a religious statue in The Philippines

All Saints Day is a time to remember Saints and Martyrs

While nursing hangovers the next day many get a surprise to find everything is shut. It’s now 1st November and All Saints Day.

For me it’s all about movies and locals. Halloween is my chillout time. I don’t have that feeling of being stranded somewhere for a week during Easter. Nor the obligation of finding people so as not to be alone during Christmas / New Years.

There’s nothing worse for me than to be in a hostel with strangers forcing themselves to party over Christmas, and be constantly asked to join in. Sorry, call me scrooge, but unless they are genuinely nice and not just getting drunk, it’s not for me.

Countries that celebrate All Saints Day with a holiday

Spain, The Philippines, Germany, France, Italy (Thanks Giovanna) …  if you know more, then leave a comment and I’ll add it here)

Halloween in The Philippines

It’s a strange merging of cultures. All Saints Day is a public holiday. A time families visit the gravesides of their relatives and remember religious saints and holy people.

Halloween itself is somewhat lost in the giant Mall clutter of Christmas. Once September hits The Philippines the country starts putting up it’s decorations and radios start blaring out Christmas songs. Halloween barely gets a mention, save for a few festive staff dressing up on the day.

History of Halloween

  • 2000 years ago the Celts, a geographical mix of people from Ireland, United Kingdom and Northern France celebrated their New Year on November 1st. This was the first day to signal the end of harvest time, summer. It also signalled the long dark winter that was now coming. A time associated with human death.
  • The night before this Oct 31st was Samhain, a time when the ghosts would return to the earth and damaged crops brought disease etc. Druids, or rather Celtic Priests would be summoned to help deal with the dilemma of the natural world.
  • The Druids would build huge bonfires to signify this. Animal and crop sacrifices were performed as people wore costumes made from animal hide. The fire from these bonfires would then be used to light their own fires at home. The sacred fire used in hope to ward off bad elements in the forth coming winder.

Roman influence on Halloween

  • When the Romans ruled the Celtic lands around 43 A.D. They incorporated two of their own festivals into Samhain. The first was a celebration of their fruit Goddess Pomona. The second a passing of the dead celebration.

Christianities influence on Halloween

  • In the 800’s Pope Boniface IV decreed November 1st as being All Saints Day – a day to remember and honor saints and martyrs. Historians also believe this day was chosen to try and nullify Samhain.

Where does the name Halloween come from?

  • All Saints Day was also known as Allholowmesse (old English). And, the night before became known as All-hallows Eve before becoming – Halloween.

    Bonfire in The Philippines

    Bonfires were used by Druids to commemorate the approaching season of human death (winter)

The U.S.A.’s influence on Halloween

  • Halloween was brought to the USA by a host of European immigrants. The celebrations were slow to catch on though as the USA was mainly protestant. However, poor immigrants did use this time of year to dress up and knock on doors asking for money and preforming acts (trick or treat). It also developed into a time young women would do simple tricks in a hope to tell who might be a future husband.
  • From this spawned community festivals, and Halloween became a yearly celebratory festival blending together many different cultures and beliefs.

The good and bad side to Halloween

In the past overly religious types scorned children for celebrating Halloween. This mixed with hooligans running rampant has scarred Halloweens growth. But, today it’s developing into one on biggest annual festivals in the world. A time for costume parties, trick or treating and light hearted fun.

My demented Halloween day

On my travels Halloween is my day to unleash my stock of cheap horror DVD’s. I expanded that today though. Today I got up, went for a nice giant coffee. And, then went to see “Last Exorcism” Which, is actually quite bad as horror movies go.

Made worse by the movie not starting on time. The sight of a man bringing in two under 10’s to see the film. Numerous people on their mobile phones. Late comers with flashlights glaring everywhere. And, of course, someone broke the film halfway though.

Later, a storm, a power cut, a flooded bathroom, a hotel maintenance man falling through my roof, the hotel running out of drinking water and well  … the night is not over yet …

Sufficed to say, I should have just stayed in with my pile of DVD’s! Nonetheless, tomorrow is All Saints Day. Everything is closed. So, it’s movie marathon day for me. And, I’m not moving!

Coming Soon

Finally, the big question about OZ and the plan …

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27 Great responses to Travel vs Halloween vs All Saints Day

  1. Renny says:

    Those eyes in the top photo are really black!! Creepy!! Are they real? Enjoy the movie marathon!

  2. not one of my favorite holidays, but you made it come more alive with this post. Thanks for all the info.

  3. Jeff Mines says:

    I never thought about holidays like that before! Nice history of Halloween too

  4. Abby says:

    I never do much for Halloween, but I’m a sucker for kids in costumes, carnivals, other people who like horror films (I’m too chicken)… Love it! In addition to watching how other cultures celebrate the holiday, it always amazes me the fervor in which American expats manage to celebrate Halloween in countries full of people who have no idea why these crazy Americans are all dressed up! It really is quite a beloved night.

  5. Jürgen says:

    Now the funny part is on how Halloween makes it’s way back via America to Europe and even into South Africa.
    It feels so out of place here, as we are celebrating spring on this end of the world.
    Thanks for the educational post.

  6. you had an awful halloween, the movie i watched which scared me was the Exorcist ( the original one) and Amytiville. those are my two best horrors.

  7. yee says:

    Great info about Halloween, Thanks!

    And you’re not a scrooge, I prefer to be alone rather than partying and getting drunk during Christmas as well.

    Seems like you had a ‘fun’ Halloween this year, so here hoping you have a better November and Joyful Christmas this year! (A bit too early?)

  8. Looks like you had a lot of fun over there. Nice article, thx 4 that.

  9. ciki says:

    so u like Halloween because it ain’t a holiday eh, dave.. that’s just grim, morbid n a little scary.. errr.. kinda like.. HALLOWEEN! Happy Halloween you!! XOXOXOXO

  10. Marnie Alvez says:

    Halloween is one of my favorite holidays! Late night scary movie marathon is my usual activity yet I look forward to it yearly haha. Last night, I was eating chips and homemade salsa dip by myself until around 3am.. too bad the movies I watched not really so good!

  11. Katrina says:

    Just celebrated my first Samhain in Ireland. It was brilliant! Lots of my friends identify as pagan or neopagan, so there were plenty of opportunities to have a ritual celebrating the harvest, the seasons, the ancestors, etc. Right in downtown Cork there was a fantastic art parade, as well. Seeing as the River Lee passes through town, they make use of that as well and have ethereal fish skeleton boats. Brilliant!

    Pics here, if you’re interested:

    Cheers! :)

  12. Dave,

    Good take on Halloween. It is interesting how the holiday has gotten wrapped up in many others. I have no idea how many different holidays I am celebrating here at once in Mexico haha.

    Walk Slow,


  13. Giovanna says:

    Don’t forget Italy,of course! all closed,etc.but not so many Feasts left as once,before we became work addicted as Saxons. Nice article,very interesting,thankyou.

  14. Earl says:

    This was an interesting write up, not only for the content but because I had completely forgotten about Halloween this year. Here it is, November 4th, and I’ve only now remembered!