Halloween Traditions Around The World

I love Halloween, it’s my favorite holiday.  And I love traveling.  So, I thought we’d do a fun post today looking at some Halloween traditions around the world.  I would love to check out all of these areas, and being there for this particular holiday seems like a great time to go!

Ireland




It only makes sense to start with Ireland since that’s where Halloween got it’s origins.  The celebration started here around 1000 AD.  It all started because people believed that on the eve of Halloween, dead spirits could enter our world, so they lit bonfires and wore disguises to frighten them away. Many of the Irish traditions of Halloween are still what we use in the US today.  The costumes, the spooky stories, and even trick or treating and Halloween games.  The idea of trick or treating came from long ago in Ireland when the poor would go door to door to the wealthy people’s homes and ask for food, money, or kindling for their bonfires.  This is what they would use for their celebrations.

The Irish play “snap apple” which is the same thing we play in the US today- except we know it as “bobbing for apples” or “doughnuts on a string”.

The Irish also carry on a tradition of eating barnbrack for Halloween.  It’s pretty much a loaf of cake with fruit in it.  But, then fun part is people also put a surprise in it and it’s supposed to tell your fortune.  If you find a coin, you will have a prosperous year.  A ring means that you will be getting married within the year.  A thimble would mean that you won’t ever marry.  And if you find a rag, it means that you will be poor.

Instead of carving pumpkins, people carved turnips instead.  Some still carry on the tradition today.

United States




Our traditions still hold close to those in Ireland.  Children and adults usually dress up in costumes of goblins, monsters, and more modernly- beloved tv characters.  The children then go door to door in the evenings saying “Trick or Treat” and the neighbors give them candy.  Parties are also held with food, music, and games.  Many people may go to haunted houses, corn mazes, carve jack o laterns, etc.

 Lately it has started to be an entire week event with different things to do in many cities.  A lot of churches and schools have been doing a “Trunk or Treat” for the kids where you park your cars in a parking lot, decorate the trunks, and the kids can come trick or treat for candy and play games at each of the cars.  This is supposed to be a safer method than having the kids go up to strangers houses at night time.





Mexico





In Mexico, they celebrate Dia de los Muertos  (Day of the Dead).  It’s a 3 day long celebration starting on October 31st through November 2nd.  This is more about celebrating and remembering the lives of those who have died, than being sad or upset by it.  They have a parade on October 31st where people dance dressed up as skeletons and often include a living person inside of a coffin, carried by ushers. This is where we get the “sugar skulls”.

 Families believe that the spirits of their loved ones return this time of year.  It is said that the children return home on November 1st while adult spirits are allowed to return on November 2nd.  Families often make an altar in their living room and include flowers, candy, and favorite foods of their loved ones.

Often on November 2nd, they will have a picnic in the cemetery and take this time to clean the graves and leave flowers for their loved ones.



Austria




Halloween has become much more popular in Austria in the past decade.  Children dress up in costumes and young and old go to parties.  Teenagers are known to do some pranks like soaping car windows and tipping over garbage cans.  There are only certain neighborhoods where the children actually go trick or treating.  Every year the town of Retz (near Vienna) hold the annual Pumpkin Festival with pumpkins, parties, and a parade for the families.

One tradition that is popular in Austria, is the thought that the dead come back this night, so people leave out bread, water, and a lamp on their doorstep to let them know they are welcome.  Children also like to play tricks on their neighbors like “knock a dolly” (better known in the US as “ding dong ditch”) where the children will knock on their neighbor’s door and try to run away before they answer it.

We can also thank (?) the region of Austria and Bavaria for the fact that we have candy corn.  It is said to be first made here by a named Albert Goelitz who then traveled to the US with it.



Japan




In Japan, they celebrate the Obon Festival or the Latern Festival.  It’s a summer festival usually held in July or August.  They believe the spirit of their dead ancestors come back during this time and this is their way to show respect and honor those who came before them.

 The Japanese people return to their homes in order to celebrate.  They welcome home the spirits with celebrations and dance.  Graves are cleaned and flowers are left.  They prepare of food and hang red lanterns all over.  The last night of Obon, they light candles (or lanterns) and float them on rivers or enjoy bonfires to honor their departed loved ones.





Romania




Halloween in Romania is interesting.  The city of Transylvania is where we get the story of Dracula or Vlad the Impaler. Bran Castle in Transylvania is the one associated with the legend.  The city goes all out for Halloween and throws a big party.  Many children don’t go trick or treating in the area, but there are plenty of parties to be had for the young and old.You could attend a costume party in an authentic Gothic castle, where people dressed up as ghosts and vampires are a normal sighting.  Many people explore the legends and folklore of the area, check out haunted places, and bring out garlic to ward themselves of evil spirits.

People in Romania also may partake in the recreating of the historic witch trials.

Have you been  to another country during Halloween?  How do they celebrate?  Have you been to one of these celebrations?  I would love to hear from someone who’s actually been during this time! Leave your stories in the comments below!
*During the transfer of website name from Pieces of Me to Live Simple, Travel Well, many of your comments did not transfer over.  Unfortunately, this problem cannot be fixed, however all future comments will show up fine.  Know that I have read each and every one of the comments you left and appreciate them!  Thank you!*

Stitch Fix- There’s An App For That!

Stitch Fix- There’s An App For That!



You guys- it’s here!!!  Stitch fix just got better.  Now, Stitch Fix has an app for Iphone users!  Personally, I have an Android- it’s in the works for us too!  We always get cool apps second, but this one I will wait for!

Starting today you can download your Stitch Fix app onto your Iphone.  You’ll have access to your your profile and notes so that it’s easier to update on the go.  One of the best parts is that once your fix ships- you’ll be able to see PICTURES of what you’re getting!!  I am so excited for that part because I can never wait until it shows up at my door.  Once I get that shipped email, I go on  an internet scavenger hunt to try to figure out what I might be getting.  This makes it so much easier!

Another really cool feature they’ve added is that you can upload a profile picture!  Now, if you want, your stylist can see what you look like to be able to find the perfect clothes for your specific body even better!  I know a lot of people have asked for this and I’m so excited that it’s finally here.  You could even make it a picture of you in the clothes they sent so they can really see what you are talking about in the feedback.

If you haven’t joined Stitch Fix yet, fill out your style profile now!  Curious?  You can see what I got in my October fix!

Why I’ll Never Settle Down

This is a poem I’ve written for all you travelers at heart.  The ones who yearn to explore and wander and have families and friends who may not understand the urge.  I hope this inspires you to follow your dreams, no matter what society may say. <3

I title it:




What If They’re All Wrong?

They say as you grow older, you must settle down;

keep a home, stay in town;

find a spouse, and have a kid;

“That’s what the rest of us did”

Keep a job, work ’round the clock,
to pay the bills, and pick up the socks,

Buy the big house and the fancy car;
“That’ll show ’em you’ve gone far.”

Eat salads and green beans,
“This grown up world is no place for dreams”.

Get home and exercise,
“must look thin, must act wise”,

Then rest for an hour or two;
wake up just to start the same day anew…

But what if they’re all wrong?  

What if, as you grow older, you can still be free?
Find your partner and make a family.

Pursue your passion, forget the clock,
pay yourself, and leave the socks,

What if you could live life collecting experiences, instead of things,
forget the cars and fancy rings;

How about climbing mountains, and chasing dreams?
Never second guessing that ice cream.

Wouldn’t it be something;
 to move around, and see the world,

Lose the crowd, spend your days laughing out loud.

Wouldn’t it be something to play in the rain,
 indulging in chocolates and champagne,
or spend your day helping someone in need,
 whether building a house or planting a seed,

Wouldn’t it be something, to live a life you love,
fill your days with adventure, wisdom, and song,
then allow yourself to rest all night long;

Wouldn’t it be something… if they were all wrong?






<3

*During the transfer of website name from Pieces of Me to Live Simple, Travel Well, many of your comments did not transfer over.  Unfortunately, this problem cannot be fixed, however all future comments will show up fine.  Know that I have read each and every one of the comments you left and appreciate them!  Thank you!*

Planning A Dream Road Trip: Spotlight On Bar Harbor

Planning A Dream Road Trip: Spotlight On Bar Harbor

*If you’re just finding this road trip, start here to find out all of the cities we’re planning to visit on our trip

Ahhh, I have been waiting for this week!  This is the week I get to talk about Bar Harbor!  Ever since I’ve started planning this trip, looking at pictures, activities to do, etc….I’ve known that Bar Harbor, Maine was going to be one of my favorite spots on this trip.  I can’t wait to go.  To be fair, I’m super excited about the next couple stops and have been waiting to get to this point!

Ok, so after leaving Portland, we’ll drive a little over 3 hours to Bar Harbor.  It’ll be late by now, so we’ll just check into the hotel and call it a night.

What to do first in this fantastic little town?  I think we’ll take the first day kinda slow and maybe go to Jeannie’s for breakfast.  It opens at sunrise and they use fresh, local ingredients.  It looks like they have large, hearty portions, with options that you don’t see everywhere.

Then maybe we’ll walk the shore path with views of the lobster boats, cruise ships, and an area known to spot seals!

photo courtesy of acadiamagic.com

I would love to go on a whale watching cruise, but everything I’ve read about them seem to say that they get canceled quite often because of fog, rough seas, etc.  I also read a lot of people saying that they’ve seen people getting sea sick on these cruises.  If it were just me and my husband, I’d take my chances, but I’d really hate to have Jaxson be sick the whole time on the boat and not be able to get him off.  So I think a good alternative is to check out Diver Ed’s dive in theater.  It’s focused more on children and families and doesn’t go as far out to sea-meaning it stays in calmer waters.  It’s about a 2 to 2 and a half hour cruise in Frenchman’s Bay, where you will see Diver Ed dive down to the ocean floor and bring up wild life (in touch tanks) for you to touch and look at.  While he is diving, you can see and hear the ocean floor through specialized equipment.  At the end, they safely return the animals to sea.  It’s supposedly really funny and children and adults love it.

Then, I think we’d need some lunch downtown from Stewman’s.  The locals say it’s a touristy spot, but supposedly still very good.  They sell lobsters by the pound, like you can order a 1 pound lobster, 1 and 1/2. 2 pound lobster, etc!  The menu has a large selection, many of which being wonderful seafood selections, but there are other options if you’re with others who don’t enjoy seafood.

After a little more exploring, it’s time to check out some of the dessert in the area!  Ben and Bill’s chocolate emporium has won awards for their 64 flavors of homemade ice cream!  If you want a quieter atmosphere, check out Choco-latte for coffee, croissants, and other yummy items.

The rest of the evening, I think we’ll take it slow and just explore since it’s been a couple hectic days and we’ve planned some time here!

Bright and early the next morning, we will either drive or hike up Cadillac Mountain in Acadia National Park.  The park has a $25 fee, but it’s good for 7 days.  $10 of that money goes towards the Island Explorer bus to take you to different areas in the park so you don’t need to bother finding parking spaces in the high season.  Cadillac Mountain boasts some of the best sunrise and sunset views in the state.  It also claims to be the first sunrise seen in the US (which is true for part of the year -October through March).  Dress warm and bring a blanket to enjoy the breathtaking views.

photo courtesy of acadiamagic.com

After that, we’ll head back down the mountain and stop at Jordan’s Pond House restaurant for homemade Maine blueberry muffins and famous popovers.

After eating a bit, we would probably take advantage of the beautiful area around the restaurant to explore.  It has interesting wooden plank walkways throughout the rougher terrain, and beautiful views of Bubble Mountain.

photo courtesy of acadiamagic.com

From there, we might go back for a short nap since we had gotten up early to see the sunrise on the mountain.

At some point, I’d really like to check out Thunder Hole. It’s a place at the edge of the ocean that you want to be at between high and low tide.  It is a cavernous area that the waves have cut out over time and when the waves crash against it, it sounds like thunder.  Between high tide and low tide is the best time to go for the loudest booms and biggest splashes.  There are stairs and railings to stand behind to watch safely.

The following day, we might take the Island Explorer to Sand Beach in Acadia to play on the beach for the day.

That evening, we might take an easy hike around Gorham Mountain trail or walk to bar Island during low tide- it disappears during high tide, so don’t get stuck!

Then we’d head back to get some rest before our long drive to Montreal Canada the next day!!



Have you been to Bar Harbor/ Acadia??  What are your favorite spots?

Have you missed some of the cities we talked about?  No problem, find them all here.  Check back next week when we’ll find out all the cool things Montreal has to offer.  Or, sign up for the newsletter so you won’t miss a city in the series!

*During the transfer of website name from Pieces of Me to Live Simple, Travel Well, many of your comments did not transfer over.  Unfortunately, this problem cannot be fixed, however all future comments will show up fine.  Know that I have read each and every one of the comments you left and appreciate them!  Thank you!*

Planning A Dream Road Trip: Spotlight On Portland Maine

Planning A Dream Road Trip:  Spotlight On Portland Maine

*If you are just finding this road trip series, you can find the beginning here.

During my research of all of these cities, I also start to research other aspects of the road trip.  Like, how am I going to keep my little boy from being bored on some of our longer driving portions of the trip??  I’ve thought of a few ways myself that I may share with you in a separate post down the road, but I was browsing around Amazon and found some great options!!  Jaxson is obsessed with finding all the different license plates from the various states right now.  We see quite a few just by living in a tourist town, but this book looks like so much for for him to use on all of our road trips til we fill it up.  You put  a license plate sticker on the state when you see it, til you fill it up!  There is also this fun kid’s atlas that has maps (which he is also obsessed with right now) interesting info about each of the states, mazes, and so much more!  Last, I bought him this road trip scavenger hunt game that has cards with words on it, like: find 5 red cars, and even using senses like “feel” going over a big bump, “smell”, “touch”, etc.  I’m really excited to bring these on all of our upcoming road trips! If you have kids, you should check this stuff out!  I know it’ll really help keep my son occupied and happy, thus keeping myself and my husband happy, lol.

                                                                     

Okay, on to Portland.  This has been a destination that I’ve really wanted to see for such a long time.  So I’m really sad that Portland isn’t a longer stop for us, but Chris just can’t get that much time off work.  So unfortunately its just a stop on our way to Bar Harbor (which I am so excited to see!!!) and we will only have a couple hours here.  After stopping in Salem along our way, I figure the earliest we’ll get to Portland will be around 2pm.  There is so much to see and do here that I feel really bad only talking about the few things we can fit into the couple of hours that we have.  But if you’re ever just stopping through Portland like we are, or have a few hours to spare- these might be some great places to check out!

I really wish we were getting here in time for brunch because I came across a myriad of wonderful places in the area that serve up a fantastic one.  But we won’t be getting in til later, so the first thing I
think we’re going to do is to start a couple miles away from downtown Portland in the town of Cape Elizabeth.  This is where the famous lighthouse is located.  After the 2 hours in the car, it’ll be nice to get out and walk around Fort Williams Park and do the Portland Head Lighthouse Walking Path.  It’s a gorgeous open area that will give you fantastic views of the lighthouse that has been photographed so many times as being quintessential Portland.  It’s got the amazing rocky cliffs, an open field to run and play in, and I hear it even has a lobster roll truck in the summer?

After that, we’ll drive the ten minutes or so to downtown Portland and walk around the Old Port area, checking out the shops and picturesque streets.  Then there is this wonderful restaurant that I really can’t leave without checking out.  It’s called Grace.  It used to be a Methodist Church that they’ve now turned into a restaurant, but have kept the stunning beauty intact.  It’s about as gorgeous as you’re picturing.  I need to go here just for the ambiance, but I hear the food is really good too.  It’s probably a little more expensive and fancy than we’re looking for on this trip since we’re trying to stick to a budget to see all of these wonderful places, but even if we have to stop in just for dessert, I’m doing it.

  Just look at this place (these pictures are from their website):

outside of restaurant

Breathtaking.  After that we’ll have to get back on the road and drive about 3 hours to Bar Harbor.  Until next time, Portland!  Where I’m sure I’ll plan much more time to visit you!

If you’d like to leave your favorite places to see or things to do in Portland so that we can all learn a little more about the area and give me some ideas for next trip, go ahead!

To check out the cities on our trip that you may have missed, go here.

* Some of the links in this post are affiliate links, which means if you purchase something through them, the company may give me a small commission at no expense to you.  Thank you for supporting the blog in this way.









*During the transfer of website name from Pieces of Me to Live Simple, Travel Well, many of your comments did not transfer over.  Unfortunately, this problem cannot be fixed, however all future comments will show up fine.  Know that I have read each and every one of the comments you left and appreciate them!  Thank you!*