October 31, Halloween Day is celebrated in the United States, Canada, Ireland, and the United kingdom with extreme popularity. Countries like Australia, Hong Kong, Belgium, Italy, Japan, France, and Malaysia are gaining popularity for trick-or-treating on Halloween. Among other countries emerging for Halloween celebrations are New Zealand, Russia, Singapore, South Korea, and Switzerland, which are becoming famous for attracting tourists, especially Halloween parties.
Traditionally people used to dress up in all saints and go to every house door to door, singing different songs and asking for soul mass cakes. With the passage of time, this tradition is converted into current trick or treating and many more joyful parties.
Do Greeks Celebrate Halloween
As long as we talk about Greece, which has never been famous for Halloween; if we talk about Greece precisely, then Greeks do not like to celebrate Halloween at all. People do not like to dress up in spooky costumes, and kids do not like to go trick or treat.
Ex-pats in Greece, who came from different parts of the world, especially the united states and other European countries, brought Halloween celebrations with them. Now Halloween parties can be found near tourist areas and other ex-pats destinations. Some locals also feel interested in learning about Halloween costumes and other related customs.
Greeks celebrate their traditional festival Apokries just before lent, in February. This festival is known as Greek Halloween for the Greeks. People participate in a masquerade ball and celebrate this festive season by drinking, eating, and dancing. Kids go home to home to get some gifts or candies, just like a Halloween trick or treat. Extravagant parades with giant floats and colorful
street dancing are very popular during the carnival season. This festive season reaches its climax on “Tsiknopempti” smoke Thursday or burnt Thursday, ten days before fasting days and from the last week of the carnival. This day is all about grilling meat and doing bar b cues. Lamb stakes and
kebabs are served in every house to entertain friends and family. These three weeks’ celebrations finish with the arrival of Lent, also known as Clean Monday or Ash Monday. So, you can safely say that Greeks do not celebrate Halloween, but they celebrate Apokries similarly to that in almost every way. Few percent of the population in Greece celebrate it, whether ex-pats or locals.
How Do Greeks Celebrate Halloween: Greece Vs The USA
On 31st October, people living in the U.S. celebrate Halloween. The main attractions of Halloween includes attending parties, doing pranks, visiting haunted houses, wearing spooky costumes, eating candies, and telling witches and ghosts tales.
Kids go house to house to play trick or treat and different games. According to an estimate, 6 billion dollars are spent annually in America for this Halloween; this is the second largest holiday celebrated after Christmas. This day is celebrated in remembrance of the departed souls, especially saints, faithful people, and martyrs. Carved pumpkins or jack o lantern is one of the most popular traditions of Halloween. Fortune telling, playing pranks, having bonfires, telling horror stories, and watching scary Halloween-themed movies are a must part of celebrating this tradition. A certain percentage of the population attends church and lights candles on the graves. Apart from this, some people abstain from eating meat.
Coming back to Greece, only ex-pats here celebrate it, and of course, the scale is much smaller. Adult people used to have evening parties while dressed up in different costumes. For kids, it is all about getting ready and getting candies and sweets but again, in modern times.
Bigger cities like Athens, Thessaloniki, Larissa, Volos, Patras, and Agrinio outskirts have Halloween parties where the majority of us ex-pats reside. Kids go house to house at night for trick or treat, and this number is increasing day by day.
How Was Halloween Introduced Into Greece Culture?
Greek Halloween comes from an ancient Greek festival specially dedicated to the god of wine, Dionysius. This ancient festival started centuries ago, if not thousands of years ago. Greeks celebrate this three-week festival in every corner of Greece, where the first week is celebrated as preannouncement week, the second as meat week, and the third as cheese week. This biggest and most famous carnival is not only famous in greece but throughout Europe. People plan
their vacations months ago to see and enjoy this festival in greece. This almost two-month period before Greek orthodox easter includes pre-carnival celebrations where people enjoy food and drink throughout Greece. Music, dance, street parties, and drinking are the main highlights of this carnival. People get indulged in expensive and extravagant parades with funky costumes. Some people prefer to make customized or exclusive costumes to stand out at the grand carnival party. In contrast, ready-to-wear costumes are also very famous among Greek people. One of the famous traditions of this festival season is bourboulia, where in the masquerade parade, women wear black gown with funky face masks to hide their identity and choose their dance partners to enjoy the moment.
The biggest highlights of this Greek Halloween are the treasure hunt and the second one is Grande parade. Scouts game is played among carnival groups in the treasure hunt, who discover all the hidden clues around the town. Many artistic competitions and theatre performances are held in this treasure hunt. This carnival season, or “Greek Halloween,” finishes with a grand masquerade ball, where they burn the carnival king on the harbor of Patras. This evening finished with a whole night of street parties, dance, and music.
The Controversy Of Halloween In Greece
In Greece, Halloween is considered controversial for its actual origins. Some people believe that this is derived from Samhain, a Celtic festival. This pagan festival is celebrated by wearing scary costumes to scare away ghosts on the eve of October 31. Another school of thought believes this is derived from Christianised all saint’s day, held on November 1, all hallows eve, or all saint’s eve on October 31, where Greeks do believe that souls of good people travel from paradise to earth once in a year and that day is all saint’s eve. All saints’ day in Greece is celebrated on 16th
December. Ancient Greece also introduced the first ghost story about a long-beard man haunting his own house in Greece during the first century A.D., so you can see there are multiple stories regarding Halloween time in Greece. Still, Greeks do not follow these traditions. Modern Greeks never appreciated Halloween as much as western countries do.
Halloween Events In Greece
When we talk about Halloween events; Greeks do not celebrate it as a tradition. Ex-pats
and tourists who moved to Greece, especially from the United States or from the
countries where people celebrate Halloween, brought their traditions with them.
Consequently, you might observe Halloween parties in significant cities of Greece
like Athens, Thessaloniki, Patras, and some other ex-pats populated areas.
Now, if we want to have some festival season in Greece, which is usually on the arrival of
the spring season, and that festival is known as Apokries. Its dates vary every year but usually fall between February and March. You can enjoy parties, parades, costumes, games, and whatnot on Greek Halloween.
So, Halloween is not something associated with Greek culture. Rather, it is a typical western tradition. People prefer to spend their money on something other than buying costumes for Halloween instead; they prefer to have appealing costumes for the Apokries festival, which is traditionally celebrated in Greece with zeal and zest.
For adult ex-pats or tourists, it is all about dressing up in scary costumes, going to parties for drinking and eating, and for kids, it is not much of a trick or treating as it is not celebrated in Greece.