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Halloween Candy Traditions From Around the World!


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As the month of October unfurls its eerie charm, a spell of excitement has been cast upon those of us in the candy business! Here in North America, we celebrate the quintessential “spooky holiday” where the centerpiece of the excitement is a generous helping of some amazing Halloween candy. But, the rest of the world has their own bewitching traditions, just waiting to be discovered! Have you ever wondered how Halloween 2023 will unfold in different corners of the globe? And do they like candy as much as we do?

Of course, other cultures hold a special place in their hearts for sweet, sweet candy; perhaps even as much as we do here in the United States. However, masquerading door-to-door, dressed up as ghosts, witches, superheroes and our favorite movie and TV show characters, while begging our neighbors for an assortment of popular candy is a uniquely American tradition. But the ritual of trick-or-treating, like many of our most cherished holiday celebrations is deeply rooted in the history of other cultures from around the world.

So, let’s take a look at some of the most interesting Halloween traditions from different corners of the globe. You’ll find that it’s not always about ghost stories, Halloween costumes, pumpkin carving, jack-o’-lanterns and candy. Exploring these global customs not only helps broaden our horizons but also offers us some delightful insights into the fun and wildly different ways people celebrate this beloved holiday.


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Since the ancient Celts were largely responsible for many of the modern Halloween customs we celebrate today, we’ll begin here. Originally known as Samhain, the Celts of Ireland, parts of Scotland, England and northern France celebrated a time of the year when the gateway between our world and the spirit world would open up to both good, and evil spirits.

In the mid 19th century, Irish settlers who were escaping the great famine brought the celebration to the United States with them. This was a way for them to celebrate the end of the long, hard work they performed during the harvest season.

Today, the Irish celebrate Halloween much like we do here in the USA, attending Halloween parties, dressing up like ghosts and zombies and trick or treating. One key difference is the baking of traditional fruitcakes called barnbrack that are shared with family, friends, and neighbors. But don’t worry, they still have plenty of delicious candy too!

The city of Derry, in Northern Ireland hosts one of the biggest events: the Banks of the Foyle Hallowe'en Carnival with thousands of people dressing up in Halloween costumes, enjoying live music and fireworks within the city’s grand medieval walls. The nation’s capital of Dublin also hosts an extravagant Samhain parade celebrating all things spooky and ghoulish.

Mexico & Latin America

Día de Los Muertos, or “the Day of the Dead” is a long-held tradition dating all the way back to the ancient Aztecs, some 3,000 years ago. This holiday, much like Samhain, is based on the belief that the borders between the spirit world and the real-world dissolve during the brief period of November 1st and 2nd. During this two-day window, the spirits of the dead can return home to spend time with their relatives.

To welcome the spirits of their ancestors, families will build extravagant altars honoring them, and even leave “ofrendas” or offerings of their favorite foods, pictures, marigolds, sweets and even bottles of tequila to welcome them back home. One of the most popular sweets enjoyed during this time are blocks of sugar that have been shaped into skulls and intricately painted in vibrant colors.

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Although Día de Los Muertos shares a lot in common with Halloween celebrations, (costumes, food, celebrating the dead, etc.) the two holidays are not completely synonymous. While Halloween is seen as one night of mischief, the Day of the Dead is seen as a colorful and joyous celebration of the continuation of life through the memories of your ancestors.


Halloween in Japan is largely influenced by the American version of the holiday, which has just recently caught on in the land of the rising sun over the past couple of decades. Many people point to Tokyo Disneyland’s first Halloween celebration in the year 2000 as the impetus that sparked the interest in Halloween festivities within the Japanese population.

Though there is no trick or treating, many Japanese people go all-out with extravagant cosplay costumes from popular anime and manga lore. These typically blow our cheap, Halloween store-bought costumes out of the water in terms of visual appeal and realism. On October 31st in Japan, you can expect flash mobs, zombie runs through cities, and impromptu street parties.

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One of the craziest things that happens all year in Japan are the Halloween trains, where costumed people will take over entire train cars, riding them throughout the night and partying until the sun comes up. This is quite controversial, as train etiquette in Japan is quite strict, intended to ensure peace and quiet during the daily commute. Authorities have been known to crack down on these festivities, sometimes even stopping the trains and detaining participants.


Halloween isn’t necessarily celebrated in the land of the red dragon, but some expats from western cultures have brought many of the holiday’s traditions inside China’s borders. Some English classes will teach their students about the Western tradition of Halloween, by offering them candy and sometimes allowing them to watch scary movies. Many bars and restaurants that cater to expats will host Halloween celebrations as well.

China does celebrate their connection to the spirit world with Teng Chieh, or the “Hungry Ghost Festival”. Originating from an old Daoist tradition, people will leave incense, food and water, along with pictures of deceased relatives to help guide the spirits through our world onto a safe passage to heaven. To culminate the night, families will host a dinner with an open setting at the table for their departed ancestors.

The Middle East

The pagan origins of Halloween traditions make the holiday considered somewhat taboo in the Middle East. In 2014, the country of Jordan banned the celebration of Halloween outright, citing numerous security concerns. Yet other countries like the United Arab Emirates celebrate the holiday openly, with lavish parties at hotels, restaurants, and clubs throughout the region.

In cities like Dubai, supermarkets and small bakkals (corner shops) sell pumpkins, costumes, Halloween candies, cookies, and treats. Some celebrations include things like Halloween-themed yoga classes and pet-adoption parties.

For many Christians in the Middle East, the holiday Eid Il Burbara, is as akin to the West’s Halloween as you can get. This holiday marks the celebration of Saint Barbara, who escaped persecution from the Romans by dressing up in different costumes. This holiday is celebrated annually on December 4th.

Nobody celebrates Halloween quite like the United States!

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Here in the USA, Halloween is one of our most cherished holidays. It is a day where both children and adults can get on the same level, dressing up and pretending to be whoever they want to be. But the best part of the day is the part where we all get to consume an excessive amount of chocolate candy bars, fruity gummy candy and virtually anything sweet we can get our hands on!

Halloween has become a huge boom for businesses in the United States too. The National Retail Federation estimates that $12.2 billion dollars will be spent on Halloween celebrations in 2023, with 73% of Americans saying they plan to celebrate in some capacity. $3.6 billion of that total will be spent on candy alone!

Optimize your candy shop for the Halloween spirit!

This Halloween season, let your candy shop be a portal to a world of sweet traditions, new and old! As a candy store owner, capitalizing on some of these diverse Halloween traditions from around the world could add a unique flair to your current offerings. We always think it’s a good idea to consider showcasing some international candy assortments, featuring sweet delicacies from different cultures, and Halloween might be a great time to do it. You can help your customers embrace the global spirit of Halloween, one piece of candy at a time!

As America’s favorite candy distributor, Redstone Foods knows very well the importance of the Halloween holiday to candy shops nationwide. We carry all of the top candy brands your customers will be looking for during any holiday season.

Please sign up for an account with us today and experience the difference Redstone Foods can make for your business. If you have any questions, please feel free to give one of our customer service representatives a call. We’d love to hear from you!