Hey, happy peeps! :) It is that time of year again when smiling pumpkins are greeting you at the local store and giant spiders are infesting your front door. That’s right – it’s October and it is Halloween month.

I wrote this article on October 30, 2016, and now 6 years later (oh my…) I have decided that it needs an update. So let’s chat about what you came here for – Halloween, its history, traditions, and why people (most of the time including me) don’t celebrate it!

Why are people not celebrating Halloween?

From internet research and my personal experience, I find that there are two main reasons why people don’t celebrate Halloween:

  1. Religious reasons.
  2. Halloween is not a popular celebration in the country or region where they are from.

Also, there are definitely some people on this Planet who don’t enjoy Halloween for personal reasons, not the two listed above. And that is totally fine! We are allowed to like or dislike holidays based on our preferences and taste.

Now that we are familiar with the 2 main reasons why people don’t celebrate Halloween, let’s explore this holiday a bit more!

Old spooky looking house - Why people don't celebrate Halloween | Lookforsmile.com
Photo by Ehud Neuhaus

A (very) short history of Halloween (as told by the internet)

Some sources claim that Halloween comes from Celtic traditions and is around for nearly 2000 years. Celts in Ireland, the UK, and northern France celebrated Samhain – a celebration that is considered the predecessor of Halloween. Samhain took place around the 31st of October.

A few centuries later, the Catholic church created a holiday of its own  – All Saints’ Day, which interestingly enough is the next day after Halloween,  on November 1st. That is also the reason why Halloween sometimes is called All Hallows’ Eve (“All Hallow’s day” is a synonym for “All Saints’ Day”).

I am by no means a historian, just learning alongside you, so here and here are the sources I used to come up with this short paragraph. If you are interested, you can definitely find some good resources on the Internet about Halloween and its history from different perspectives. 

Lonely church on field - Why people don't celebrate Halloween | Lookforsmile.com
Photo by Intricate Explorer

Religion and Halloween

Christianity and Halloween

The main reasons I found why there are Christians who choose to not celebrate Halloween are: 

  1. it is not a Christian holiday. The Bible tells to not celebrate any pagan holidays, Halloween’s roots are in pagan traditions, so… Halloween is out of the window.
  2. It is considered a celebration of darkness. Since Christians are encouraged to walk in the light, it makes sense that they are not celebrating Halloween.

Source: Crosswalk.com 

It is also important to note that there are plenty of Christians who celebrate Halloween with simple things – trick or treating, dressing up, carving a pumpkin, etc. It all depends on the denomination as well as local church recommendations and personal opinions.

Other religions and Halloween

Then there are other religions that don’t take part in the Halloween celebration. Mostly it is because of the first reason why Christians don’t do it – it is not a celebration in their religion. For example, Islam, Judaism, and others.

Source: Religionunplugged.com

Thoughts on why people from different religions don’t celebrate Halloween

Let’s remember that Halloween is not a neutral World holiday like, for example, Women’s day, Human rights day, etc. Its roots are in paganism so let’s call it a pagan holiday. We don’t expect people who are part of Judaism to celebrate Christmas, we shouldn’t expect everyone celebrates Halloween just because it is widely commercialized.

Mexican Dia de los Muertos face paint - Why people don't celebrate Halloween | Lookforsmile.com
Photo by Salvador Altamirano

Halloween in different countries

Countries where Halloween is very popular or gaining popularity

Halloween is mostly celebrated in the UK, USA, and Canada. Lately, it has been gaining popularity in Australia, all around Europe, India, Malaysia, etc. In some countries, for example, Brazil, Germany, Peru, Philippines, Halloween is celebrated alongside native cultural holidays. And then there are countries, for example, Mexico and El Salvador, that celebrate something like Halloween around the same time, but don’t call it Halloween.

The role of globalization in the prevalence of Halloween

I want to add my personal opinion. Except for the UK, USA, and Canada, Halloween is gaining popularity because of globalization, American culture’s expansion in Europe, and Halloween’s commercialization. It is viewed as a fun and cool party by young people. A much cooler holiday than the traditional ones that our ancestors or even grandparents celebrated around that time. And it makes Halloween gain extra points in popularity.

What countries do not celebrate Halloween?

And then there are countries that are overall against Halloween, for example, Russia and Rwanda.

In Russia, Halloween is mostly unwelcome because of religious reasons.

Sources: rd.com and Worldpopulationreview.com

In Rwanda, the leaders say Halloween doesn’t mix with Rwanda’s culture well. At one moment (to be specific in 2013), Rwanda has even gone so far as legally prohibiting Halloween celebrations of any kind, making Halloween officially illegal. But not to worry, the year I am writing this – 2022, Rwanda is officially back on Halloween celebration for those who are interested. Not sure though in which year the Halloween ban was lifted, but today everything is a-okay in Rwanda.

Sources: Theeastafrican.co.ke and Skiddle.com

There are also countries that don’t celebrate Halloween as a mainstream holiday but also don’t overall hate it. Latvia is one of those countries, as well as Germany, Croatia, and others. Where people who want to celebrate Halloween can do it, but most people won’t.

Personal experience stories

Halloween in Latvia

“I am not from the UK, USA, or Canada, where (as Google says) Halloween is celebrated the most in the World. I live in Latvia (Europe) and in Latvia, the Halloween celebration is not mainstream. It is popular as a theme for dress-up parties, mostly for the younger generations. In some cases, people also decorate offices and houses, but you will not see big and over-the-top decorations, except maybe, for some shops, of course.

Families with young children in certain districts enjoy the trick-or-treating part of Halloween (which kid will say no to a holiday where you can get candy for free from strangers!), but it is more popular in certain areas and house districts. Most homes in Latvia on October 31 are not equipped to hand out candy.

Older generations in Latvia are often against Halloween or take a neutral position saying they don’t understand it and that it is a modern holiday for youngsters.

When I was a kid in the late nineties, Halloween didn’t exist in Latvia. It started to gain popularity around, I would guess, mid-2000. And from there people have slowly become more accepting of this foreign holiday – throwing parties, enjoying treats, and dressing up.” /My personal experience and observations

Halloween in Mexico

“Here in Mexico we traditionally don’t celebrate Halloween but “Día de los muertos” or “Day of the dead”, where we put offerings of food and things our beloved that are not here anymore liked when they were alive, we decorate the offerings with flowers of cempasúchitl, also we go to the cemeteries and decorate the tombs of our beloved ones with flowers.  Although in the past 30 years Halloween has been more included in our culture so, we go and ask for candies or money from house to house and we have  Halloween parties where we disguise as we want.

Since 2015 after the 007 movie, we have a parade with dancing people, but that is new.” /Renè from Mexico

Halloween in Germany

In North Germany Halloween is celebrated in the usual manner of preparing sweets for the kids, if they come by and ring at the door saying “Süßes oder Saures” which literally translated means “Sweet or Sour” but the meaning stays the same as for “Trick or Treat”. Kids dress up as witches, ghosts,  princesses, etc. and parents usually accompany them during the candy search door to door. Grownups on the other hand use Halloween as a chance to binge-watch more spooky and horror movies for a few weeks and make parties more fun by dressing up in different costumes if Halloween happens to be on the weekend. In the shops, Halloween theme Haribo and Trolli candies can be found. Other than that not too much preparation for Halloween is made. After October 31 everyone is already more focused on the Christmas and Christmas markets. /Laura, lives in Germany/

Halloween in Nigeria

“Wish I could tell more about it, but I never had the experience of Halloween before in my life. I didn’t grow up in that kind of environment. Besides Nigerians barely do that because we get scared easily and that (red. edit Halloween) can lead to extreme stuff.” /Oluwatimilehin from Nigeria/

Men's shadow in mist - why people don't celebrate Halloween | Lookforsmile.com
Photo by Stefano Pollio

Halloween and similar Latvian traditional holidays

Latvian “Halloween-y” traditional holidays

Since I am Latvian and I know Latvia’s culture firsthand, here is a brief insight into the Latvian traditional holiday that has a similar idea to Halloween. 

On November 10, we celebrate Martin’s day. I need to note, that turns out we, Latvians, are not the only ones who celebrate this day. Wikipedia suggests that almost all countries in Europe are familiar with this celebration. However, the celebration and the reason behind it are carried out slightly differently in every country.

Source: Wikipedia.org 

Martin’s day celebration in Latvia today

First things first, Martin’s day is not a mainstream holiday in Latvia (as Halloween is in its source countries). Nowadays most Latvians don’t celebrate Martin’s day with a huge feast and traditional festive activities. 

But still, this is a holiday every Latvian knows and it is not forgotten. To mark the celebration, there are Martin’s day trade shows that a lot of Latvians attend. It is a possibility to buy local food, crafts, etc, and enjoy traditional dance and music day concerts.

Also, schools are still celebrating and educating about this holiday, for example, there are Martin’s day school markets, dressing up, and other activities.

The traditional celebration of Martin’s day in Latvia

The reason for Martin’s day celebration was the end of Autumn and the beginning of Winter. It was the last day when farmers would let their herds graze outside till the next spring.

In some resources, it was also referred to as the last day of ghost season (a time when Latvians believed ghosts were roaming free on the surface of Earth). But that differs from source to source and most likely from region to region as well.

A lot of Martin’s day traditions included rituals that were meant to take care of the animals so they stay healthy during the winter season. Let’s remember that Latvian ancestors are farmers and animals played a big role in their everyday activities. Animals were helpers (for example, horses), resources (for example, cows, goats, sheep), and food (for example, cows, pigs, and chickens).

Since the Latvian traditional religion is paganism, a lot of Martin’s day rituals are pretty bloody and definitely include a dead rooster and its blood. A roaster rooster is also the main dish of this celebration.

Another activity that was characteristic (and not so immoral from today’s standpoint) of Martin’s day was dressing up. That included scary masks (for example, death) as well as other symbols that were important to farmers, for example, horses, hay, goats, and other animals. When dressed up, people went to neighbors’ houses and asked for food and threw a little party there with games and dancing. Dressing up and asking for treats definitely has a parallel with Halloween.

Two sceletons in a party in pink lights - why people don't celebrate Halloween | Lookforsmile.com
Photo by Kenny Eliason

Modernization of Halloween

One of the reasons why Halloween is still popular and gaining popularity in new countries is that people have modernized it and made it appealing to humans at this time. People no longer carve turnips, instead, they carve much more appealing-looking pumpkins. The carving style has also evolved. Nowadays, it is even cool to “tattoo” your pumpkins with drawings, no carving whatsoever.

The costumes and activities have also been customized to fit the scene of today’s society. People give out modern candy, and you can go trick-or-treating dressed how the heck you want, even as your best friend Allie. Also, Halloween dress-up parties as an addition to Halloween celebration play a big part in modernizing Halloween.

Modernize or keep it traditional?

Compared to Latvian culture – we have preserved our traditions almost untouched. If you celebrate Martin’s day, you most likely celebrate it the old-school style (for example, as a part of a traditional folk group) or you don’t celebrate it at all. The folk groups keep these traditions alive and educate people who are interested. 

You can argue which is better – modernize traditional holidays to fit today’s mold or try to preserve them as they were hundreds of years ago. I see benefits for both practices. One keeps the traditions alive and integrated, and the other – educates about the history and your roots. 

Halloween pumpin lantern - blog - Lookforsmile.com

My personal viewpoint on Halloween

Why I usually don’t celebrate Halloween

I am not into scary things. I do not watch scary movies and I do not go to haunted houses and other that kind of theme parks. It is just not for me. I do not scare people on purpose and I do not find it funny. Also, I find it disturbing to see people look dead or damaged (blood everywhere, knives sticking out, etc).

And I am also a little bit worried about the spiritual background of Halloween, so that is another reason why I don’t go on fully celebrating it.

That said, last year was the first year I made Halloween an occasion. I had recently sprained my ankle (that meant I couldn’t dance), and there was a lot happening emotionally and mentally for me around that time. Halloween was just the perfect outlet for those emotions. So, what I did – I made a short choreography on the Adams family cartoon soundtrack and me and my tap dance friend made a Halloween video. To this day that is one of my favorite choreographies – the first time I turned my inner pain into art, and Halloween was the right occasion for it.

Where Halloween gets plus points from my point of view

Dressing-up

 It is always fun to dress up and be someone or something else for the night! I think there is no harm in having a dress-up party since you don’t even need to dress up as something scary. Everything is allowed! Fairies, firefighters, queens, doctors, famous people, animals…, the list just goes on. 

Pumpkins

 I love those pumpkins! Carved or “tattooed”, or even bare. They look great as decorations, they have the fall aesthetic (aka they are orange) and they are zero-waste which is a great plus for a decoration. And when carved and turned into lanterns – it just looks amazing.

Talking about death

The Halloween theme overall is scary and death-related (zombies, ghosts, etc). I think death is something we are all scared of and it is nice one day in a year to let it go, and maybe search for a little bit more acceptance.

Halloween harvest - blog - Lookforsmile.com
Photo from unsplash.com

Final thoughts

As with everything – do what makes you feel good as long as it is not harmful to others. That is also where I stand on celebrating Halloween or not. It is fine to not be into Halloween for any reason, and it is also fine to have fun on a Halloween night. 

Now it is your turn!

Tell me in the comments why do you like (or dislike) Halloween! I would like to hear your thoughts, experience, and respectful opinion!

                            With love,

                                    Madara

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The Sunday Mode
The Sunday Mode
6 years ago

The Latvian holiday does sound really similar to Halloween! Halloween in Australia is no where near as big as it is in America, people don’t really go trick or treating here or celebrate it very much. Personally I like halloween but I don’t really ‘celebrate’ it myself, the most I’ll do is put on a scary movie or something like that and have a night in.

Julia // The Sunday Mode

Antonia
Antonia
6 years ago

I don’t celebrate Halloween too. I’m from Croatia and as well as in Latvia, Halloween isn’t as popular as in other countries. We actually have pretty similar non Halloween traditions (st. Martin’s day). I’m not a fun of scary movies either. They give me nightmares and that’s something I really don’t need. xo

Antonia || Sweet Passions

Antonia
Antonia
6 years ago
Reply to  Madara

Yes, they do. Some of them go to dress-up parties and some carve pumpkins but mostly in bigger cities and definitely not as much as in UK. I can definitely see that the popularity is growing because of media and commercialization.

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