Learn about fall customs of countries like Mexico, Scotland and Spain.

5 Fall and Halloween Traditions From Around the World

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Countries celebrate fall and Halloween in many different ways—for example, face painting in Mexico for Dia de los Muertos.

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In ancient Celtic times, the night of Oct. 31 was said to be when spirits were returning to Earth. Whether it’s because of the harvest, the beauty of the changing season, the cold winter nights on the way or simply a time-honored tale passed down for centuries, many countries around the world have traditions rooted in remembrance of the dead that are customarily observed during October and November.

As the “spooky” season approaches, we’ve mapped out some of the most intriguing traditions from destinations you could visit while on a Royal Caribbean cruise. And if you’re inspired to set sail for your next vacation, just think: There are plenty more places where these came from and cruises that will take you there.

Read on for five fall and Halloween (or similar) customs in popular cruise destinations.

During fall in Italy, Italians make traditional meals and desserts like Day of the Dead cookies.

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La Festa di Ognissanti and Il Giorno dei Morti – Italy

These two Italian fall traditions, which translate to All Saints Day and Day of the Dead respectively, are deeply rooted in Italian culture. Whereas many other countries mark similar periods of remembrance with lively gatherings or rituals, Italian Catholics solemnly observe these two days by peacefully praying for the deceased. Although La Festa di Ognissanti and Il Giorno dei Morti are seeing more Halloween-inspired customs take place, they are still acknowledged with days of rest on which people make authentic meals and desserts. These include sweets like soft almond cookies known as fave dei morti or Day of the Dead cookies.

Pro tip: Visit Italy in style on Royal Caribbean’s Odyssey of the Seas. It sets sail from Rome for the first time in summer 2022.

Discover a cruise to Italy and the Mediterranean for a vacation full of history, culture and more.

 

On Dia de los Muertos, skeletal-inspired makeup is worn to honor the dead.

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Dia de los Muertos – Mexico

Dia de los Muertos or Day of the Dead (a holiday very famously depicted in the popular Pixar movie “Coco”) is a lively tradition honoring life, death and familial bonds. From Nov. 1 to Nov. 2, family and friends who have passed away are remembered by their loved ones.

This custom can involve parades, street performances, traditional Mexican street art and, of course, the holiday’s iconic symbols: skulls and skeletons. Candles and photographs of departed loved ones are placed on altars along with offerings or ofrendas, like favorite foods and objects of personal significance. Dia de los Muertos has its roots in Aztec heritage, and it’s still a widely celebrated tradition that is closely associated with Mexico.

Fun fact: Other countries also observe some form of Dia de los Muertos. For example: In Spain, there are three days. Oct. 31 is Day of the Witches; Nov. 1, a national holiday, is All Saints Day; and Nov. 2 is Day of the Dead/All Souls Day.

Take a cruise that sails to Mexico and a variety of Caribbean destinations.

 

Pumpkin carving and painting is a popular activity on Halloween in the United States.

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Halloween – United States

Since Americans’ Halloween customs were inspired here and there by other cultures, the holiday in the United States has become a kind of patchwork of festivities. It’s associated with carving and painting pumpkins, baking festive pumpkin-themed desserts and meals, dressing up in fun costumes and trick-or-treating on Halloween night in hopes of loading up on candy. Although that custom is typically practiced by kids, adults also often celebrate with family and on their own by hosting themed parties, watching scary movies and TV, and more.

From Florida to the New York area, you can sail from the U.S. to destinations like the Caribbean, Europe and Alaska.

 

Traditional face painting is often practiced for Pangangaluluwa in the Philippines.

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Pangangaluluwa – Philippines

In the Philippines, Pangangaluluwa takes place on what’s known as All Hallows Eve (Oct. 31). In place of trick-or-treating from home to home, people, usually children, wear traditional Filipino face paint and sing at the doorsteps of each home. They traditionally are singing from what’s thought to be the perspective of the dead’s lost souls. Those at home welcoming the visit are then expected to give kakanin, an offering (often food) that the children, or the lost souls, can bring to the dead to find their way back. This activity has its historic origins with Tagalog people of the Philippines. In recent years, the country has also incorporated customs from more Western versions of Halloween, like costumes and trick-or-treating.

Fun fact: Many of Royal Caribbean’s dedicated crew members hail from the Philippines, making this a destination held near and dear.

Sail this part of the world on a transpacific or South Pacific cruise.

An annual Samhain fire parade features interpretive dancers in costume, who are telling the story of the changing season.

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Samhain – Ireland and Scotland

Samhain (SAH-win) is a festival historically celebrated in Ireland and Scotland, as well as other British Isles. Reportedly dating back to 9th-century Ireland, the first recorded instances of this festival included feasting in preparation for a long winter, bonfires and divination. Samhain takes place between Oct. 31 and Nov. 1, and it’s thought to be a period when the barriers between the physical and spiritual world come down.

In more recent times, Edinburgh, Scotland, hold an annual fire parade on the night of Samhain. Fire is thought to have cleansing power, and the parade is one of the city’s biggest winter festivals (think: Celtic New Year). With drumming, acrobatics and dancers in costume as otherworldly creatures, the parade tells the story of winter conquering summer and truly is a sight to see.

Discover the British Isles firsthand on a cruise in Europe.

 

Inspired to travel and learn more about these countries? Check out the cruises that will take you there.