Instead of carved pumpkins, spooky costumes and trick or treating on all hallows eve, people throughout Asia celebrate in other spook-tacular (sorry, I had to) ways. We’ve found some of our favourite festivities around this wonderfully diverse continent and put them together so you can go on your won marvellous mystery tour.
Hungry ghost festival – China
China celebrates Halloween (Teng Chieh) by leaving drinks, food and spirit money as offerings to the dead and lighting lanterns to guide spirits to the next life. It is believed that spirits are sometimes reincarnated into scary creatures and seeing one is considered very bad luck. So during the festival, locals visit Buddhist temples and make paper boats to carry their loved ones and other spirits onwards. The Hungry Ghost festival is also one of the biggest annual events in Vietnam.
Obon festival – Japan
Similar to the hungry ghost festival, the Obon festival is about honouring your ancestors and departed spirits. Japan. Family members graves are visited and cleaned, and offerings are left. The idea is to reconnect the family with those passed and to honour their memory. The Japanese also hang bright red lanterns in their houses or set them afloat on rivers. While the festival is a little earlier than October (usually July or August), the roots of the festival are very similar to Halloween.
Chuseok – Korea
During the month of September, family members get together and offer rice and flowers to their dead ancestors to show respect and honour them. For modern Korean families, Chuseok is a chance to take a break and get together as a group, and they often go on holiday or have big dinners. Just like Halloween, there’s a lot of costumes and a lot of drinking.
P’chum ben – Cambodia
The 15 of P’chum Ben is celebrated in the tenth month of the lunar calendar. Cambodian dress in traditional garb and bring special food – like sweet sticky rice and beans wrapped in banana – and gifts to their local temple. Here, they spread rice and sesame seeds around where the ghosts and spirits are thought to live and then come together to offer prayers and blessings to those who have passed.
Sart Thai day – Thailand
Celebrated in autumn, Sart Thai day – also known as memorial day – is a celebration of family and friends who have passed on. A Buddhist festival set around harvest time, the local Thai offer up the first harvest the spirits. Krayasart – literally food for Sart day – f made of rice, beans, sesame and sugar is made and taken to the local temple. After the offering, the people perform a ceremony consisting of pouring rose and jasmine-scented water around the temple to pass on respect and blessings to the dead.