You know it’s that time of the year again: when leaves turn brown and chill fills the air; when people carve faces on pumpkins and children dress up as goblins. Halloween is a favorite occasion for many people. It’s one of those Holidays that are perfect for just about anyone. Whether you’re going solo or you have kids in tow, Halloween is that ONE night each year dedicated to all things fun, yet frightening.
But have you ever wondered how the rest of the world celebrates this spooky night? Do they go trick-or-treating or take friends out for a fright?
See how people spend their Halloween in Asia-Pacific:
1. Halloween in Australia
Believe it or not, the idea of spooks and ghouls wasn’t always so popular in the land ‘down under’. It’s only recently that more and more Australians became open to the idea of celebrating Halloween. One of the reasons why it didn’t catch on before was the season itself. Australia is still on the summer months when Halloween rolls around in North America.
But as they say, it’s never too late. Australians can now also be seen donning ghoulish costumes, trick-or-treating (although not in large numbers), and embracing horror parties.
2. Halloween in China
Like Aussies, more and more Chinese people are also acknowledging Halloween. This is particularly true for big cities like Shanghai, or in places with big expat communities. But the majority of folks DO NOT celebrate it as it technically has no cultural or religious ties to it.
The Chinese have their own equivalent of this event, called Hungry Ghost Festival (Zhōngyuán Jié) and Tomb-Sweeping Day (Qīngmíng jié). Neither of these festivals is observed in October – but like Halloween, they also have ghosts and spirits.
3. Halloween in Indonesia
Thanks to globalization, Indonesia’s cities – especially Jakarta – play host to fun parties for Hallow’s Eve. Multicultural institutions, such as schools, may throw themed parties and invite locals to participate for some well-meaning cultural exchange.
However, there are some parts of Indonesia that have their own festivities comparable to that of Halloween. The Javanese for instance, celebrate Satu Suro, which features plenty of local superstitions around spirits and folk tales. Depending on which part of Java you are, you will get to experience different facets to this festival: from quiet meditation to lively parades.
4. Halloween in Japan
The ‘land of the rising sun’ has warmly welcomed this event with open arms in previous years. But how people spend their Halloween in Japan focuses on three things: cosplay, decorations, and sweets. You will hardly find trick-or-treaters, mainly because Japanese people don’t want to be bothersome to others. However, there will be business establishments that will occasionally hand out treats to kids.
One super popular Halloween celebration in Japan is Tokyo Disneyland’s Halloween special. First presented in 1999 to introduce locals to the spooky spirit, it has since become a Halloween tradition many people now look forward to each year.
5. Halloween in Malaysia
In 2014, the country’s National Fatwa Council announced that Muslims in Malaysia should not celebrate Halloween. Instead, Muslims are encouraged to remember the dead through prayers and reading from the Koran.
But that shouldn’t damper your spirits – especially in Kuala Lumpur. Like other Asia Pacific country, big cities hold festivities for those who want to participate. Non-muslims, expats, and tourists are free to party in various locations across KL. Just don’t expect any trick-or-treating.
6. Halloween in the Philippines
Wondering how people spend their Halloween in this tropical archipelago?
One tradition that has never gone out of favor with many Filipinos is visiting the cemetery on or after October 31st. Families would get together to clean and pray at the graves. For many, it’s like a mini reunion as they can be with relatives they haven’t seen in a long time.
Aside from small community events, there are also lively Halloween parties for different age groups. Trick-or-treating is rare though, and is mostly reserved as mall promotions. But you can still get your spooky fix from the many local festivities. Try attending a neighborhood costume party, or go inside a community haunted house!
7. Halloween in Singapore
Singapore is one of the APAC countries that go all out on Halloween. If ever you’re in the city, you won’t be bored thanks to all kinds of popular events. One much-awaited happening is Universal Studio’s annual Halloween Horror Nights. Visitors are treated to ghouls, goblins, witches, and monsters as well as rides. Great for families, groups of friends, or couples.
Singapore is also one of the select APAC countries where it’s okay to go trick-or-treating. As more and more locals embrace the spooky tradition, communities are becoming open to kids asking for sweet treats. But before you or your children go trick-or-treating, always plan your route ahead of time. Talking to neighbors or the school’s PTA is also recommended.
8. Halloween in South Korea
Although certain metropolitan areas in South Korea (such as Seoul and Incheon) hold parties during Halloween, it’s still not a much-celebrated holiday. Sure, there are street dancing, parades, and sultry costumes – but in general, most South Koreans are NOT into the fare. It’s usually young adults and expats who are most game for the festivities.
But if you’re visiting the country right in time for Halloween, don’t despair. As long as you stick to urban areas, there’s bound to be something fun in store. Check out cafes, bars, hotels, or restaurants for spooky themes or promotions. Trick-or-treating may not be huge, but hey, you still get to dress up.
9. Halloween in Thailand
Similar to most Asian countries, Thais don’t consider Halloween a major event. However, the Thais are a fun-loving bunch, so you can expect themed parties and fabulous costumes. The best events are of course, are held in cities like Bangkok. So be sure to catch the excitement when you’re there.
But aside from heavy partying, one of the unique aspects of Halloween in Thailand is their legends about the spirit world. Listen to tales about Pret (hungry ghost) or Phi. Or watch out for ‘spirit houses’ along the way. These are miniature shrines near homes or business establishments. With all those ghost stories, who needs sleep anyway?
10. Halloween in Vietnam
Just like Thailand, the Vietnamese are into Halloween for the parties. Festivities are not as big as Western countries, but if you’re a tourist or expat, you won’t be starved of fun either. Just visit hotels, cafes, bars, or restaurants for Halloween themes and other promotional events.
The main highlight of Halloween in Vietnam is the costumes. So don’t forget to make or buy a cool one for yourself. Drop by coffee shops for scary movies and spooky-themed food. Then dance the night away with other witches, ghouls, and ghosts. Who knows, maybe you’ll even make a good friend or two.
Surprised at how people spend their Halloween in Asia-Pacific?
Many countries in the Asia-Pacific region may not be celebrating Halloween in the way most Westerners do – but they definitely have the beginnings of spooky things to come. Combining Western ideas with their own local cultural beliefs, Halloween in these 10 countries is something you won’t want to miss.