It is the night when witches, and ghouls, and ghosts alike run amuck; the night when “trick-or-treat” can be heard up and down the street; the night when everything is just a little bit spookier; it’s the night of Halloween!
We at the German-American Heritage Foundation would like to wish everyone a Happy Halloween! Although this is primarily an Irish/American holiday, German-speaking countries throughout Europe still celebrate it. Halloween first started emerging in Germany after World War I & II, most likely due to America’s influence on the country during that time. However, in the 1990s, the holiday quickly gained popularity – this is thought to be because Fasching was cancelled in 1991 due to the First Gulf War, so the Special Carnival Group (Fachgruppe Karneval) of the German Association for the Toy Industry (Deutscher Verband der Spielwarenindustrie) promoted the idea of Halloween.
Celebrating Halloween in Germany (and other German-speaking countries) is a little different than it is here in America. For instance, one of the biggest differences is the prevalence of trick-or-treating (or Süß oder Saures). In Germany and other German-speaking countries, only big cities or cities near American military bases participate in trick-or-treating due to the fact that St. Martinstag (another holiday where kids go door to door to get candy) is only 11 days later. Instead, Halloween is celebrated more with parties, in which people dress up in scary costumes.
Halloween celebrations also vary by region and country. For example, in Retz, Austria (just outside of Vienna), there is the famous Kürbisfest (Pumpkin Festival). Similarly, in Darmstadt, Germany, one can visit Burg Frankenstein, which is thought to be the possible inspiration for Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein. These are only a couple of the ways of celebration, with many more being found around the countries.
Once again, Happy Halloween!
Written by Emily Beeland