How is Halloween celebrated around the world? An answer from Bocconi students

“Trick or treat?”

These are probably the most popular words said by every child in countries like the US and the UK from the very beginning of October to its very end.

Halloween in some parts of the world means skeletons, pumpkins, candies and spiderwebs which are used to decorate shopping windows, houses and backyards. Halloween’s culture is full of symbols and traditions: getting dressed as spooky characters, going from house to house trick-or-treating and obviously carving pumpkins, creating different jack-o’-lanterns.

The origins date back to the Irish Celtics who brought this tradition to the UK and the US, making it one of the most beloved celebrations. Halloween’s fame in the US is topped only by Christmas. No other celebration has such an impact on people and their everyday lives in a determined time of the year.

For many years, none of these traditions have stuck in Italy. Italian culture never welcomed Halloween, or at least not as much as other countries have.  No webs, no ghosts nor pumpkins cover shopping windows; no decorations on houses and children are not used to go out from house to house trick-or-treating.

Candy canes do not exist in Italy, and pumpkins are not used as lanterns. Sad.

It seems globalization wasn’t able to make this spooky festivity a worldwide phenomenon. Is it really so?
We all know that Bocconi is famous for the international variety of its students. Have they perceived the difference between Halloween in Milan and Halloween back at their counties? 

Let’s ask them!

Linda, 1st year CLEACC, directly from China, is not into Halloween. It is not a big deal back home, especially in small cities like the one in which she used to live. it is usually more celebrated in bigger cities such as Shanghai, which is full of people from different cultures. Schools in China are also very strict: it is not allowed for students to go to school dressed in costumes!

Pretty much the same happens in France: one of our students, 1st year BIEM, form Savoie, explained how Halloween is not really part of French culture. It was not celebrated until very recently; “trick-or-treat” is not common, and people do not decorate their houses, just few shops do have Halloween decorations. 

For Timea (1st year BIEM) what happens at Halloween in Austria and Germany, where she has lived for most of her life, is very similar to what happens in Italy. The 31st is not a day to celebrate, but people do celebrate the day after. The First of November is All Saints Day, a holiday for Christian people. As we’ve seen for other European countries, some of the Halloween’s traditions have set foot in many different places, but haven’t really become part of their culture. 

Turkey, as Duru (1st year BEMACC) said, is not very into Halloween either. Usually international schools organize some themed parties on the 31st, only because there are students from all over the world! It is not common to celebrate it according to Turkish culture. 

On the other hand, those who probably are homesick right now are Bocconi Spanish students, especially those from Catalonia. They are used to celebrate the typical “American Halloween” with parties and costumes (not so much trick-or-treating); but Halloween is overtaken by another huge celebration typical of this period in Catalonia, which is La Castanyada

La Castanyada is linked to an old tradition, according to which an old woman used to pick chestnuts from trees and sell them in the city’s square; still nowadays Catalonians celebrate Castanyada in October, grilling chestnuts and panellets (typical treats made from sweet potato).

Halloween can be celebrated in very different ways: children in the US can go from house to house “trick-or-treating”, while teenagers in Europe can go to the disco, and Catalan people can cook their panallets. To each their own! After all each celebration is linked to the other based on one thing… HAVING FUN! 

From the Bocconi TV Team: Happy Halloween!

Vittoria Del Borrello