In spite of its English origins, Halloween – or Dia das Bruxas (Witches Day) – is also becoming more and more popular every year in Brazil.
The term “Halloween” was first used around 1745, in Scotland. The belief was that, between sunset of 31 October and dawn on 1 November, the so-called ‘hallow’, or holy, evening took place. The expression was abbreviated to Hallowe’en, and eventually took on its modern spelling: Halloween.
During the 1800s, the Irish took the tradition with them to America, where it caught people’s imaginations and went on to become one of the USA’s most popular celebrations.
In the United Kingdom, after a slow burning start during the 20th century, when it didn’t really catch on, Halloween has gained in popularity over the course of the last few years. From the end of September onwards, shoppers start to notice those famous black and orange colours. Fancy dress shops try to outdo one another with their wacky outfits for all ages, and magazines are full of tips on how to do the goriest make-up.
Liverpool plays host to the Lantern Procession, a parade in Sefton Park which brings out Merseyside’s witches, skeletons and creepy characters. The Cotswolds zoo, in England’s midlands, has its own Howl-o-ween, a terrifying train ride into bat territory, with guaranteed screams.
In Brazil, although not traditionally part of the cultural repertoire, the Dia das Bruxas has become ever more popular in recent times, in part thanks to its similarity of theme with the national holiday, on 2 November, of Finados – the Day of the Dead. The date is always a highlight of the year for the many English schools spread around the country, and children love getting dressed up and playing special scary games.
Among Brazilian teenagers, popular US TV series have contributed to a certain affection for zombies, and many state capitals now promote an annual Zombie Walk (Marcha dos Zumbis), inspired by the first one, which took place in São Paulo in 2006.
With so many great options, choosing where to spend your Halloween/Witches Day is almost as difficult as deciding between a trick or a treat.