by Francesca Burke

It is officially autumn! For Clevelanders like ourselves, this usually means sweater weather, the occasional snow in October, and pumpkin spice lattes. For teens, it is arguably the most aesthetically pleasing time in the course of our year. However, in other countries, the start of fall brings different, unique traditions to welcome the season. Feel free to get cozy and immerse yourself in the interesting festivals of fall and how other populations celebrate it, both big and small. 

Dia de los Muertos (Mexico and Latin America)

One of the most popular international fall celebrations is Dia de los Muertos. Typically celebrated on the first and second of November, this holiday is a time when observers honor their loved ones who have passed away. This celebration is rooted in Aztec traditions and is filled with beautiful colors and fun festivities symbolising the importance of life. On Dia de los Muertos, members of the deceased’s family leave gifts on their altars such as sugar skulls, flowers, candles, clothing, and even the loved one’s favorite foods and drinks. Cemeteries come alive with light as hundreds of families celebrate their fallen loved ones. 

Chuseok (Korea)

Similar to Dia de los Muertos, Chuseok is also used to honor deceased ancestors. This holiday usually falls somewhere in late September or early October and is three days long. During this time Koreans spend time with family, playing games, and visiting the graves of their ancestors, offering food to their spirits. A popular food eaten on this holiday is songpyeon, which is a rice cake with sweet filling. There are ways for observers to have fun as well such as dances, traditional wrestling matches, and feasts. 

Bonfire Night (Britain)

This holiday is lesser known yet dates back to 1605. Every year on November 5 Brits hold a bonfire, and the reason is quite humorous. Guy Fawkes was a part of the Gunpowder Plot, which was a failed attempt to blow up the Parliament and kill its members and the king. Even though there were many other men involved in this plot, Fawkes was, for some reason, the only one that became famous, with Bonfire Night sometimes being called Guy Fawkes Day. So, on the same day every year bonfires are started with traditions such as burning Fawkes’ effigies. Bonfire Night is where the quote “Remember, remember, the 5th of November” originates. Other festivities include parties, parades, and fireworks. 

Oktoberfest (Germany)

This is another well known fall holiday. Oktoberfest is a yearly celebration in Munich, Germany. Oktoberfest dates all the way back to 1810 when Crown Prince Ludwig married Princess Therese of Saxe-Hildburghausen. This celebration was originally centered around horse racing, but was changed a few years later. Now, this sixteen to eighteen day festival is known for beer drinking and giant pretzels. 

Jidai Matsuri (Japan)

Celebrated annually on the twenty-second of October, Jidai Matsuri is a day when citizens celebrate the day that the Heart of  Japan, Kyoto, was founded. This day is celebrated with a two-hour long parade from the Imperial Palace to Heian Shrine. Participants represent 1,100 years of Japanese history and dress in costumes from hundreds of different eras. Some people even dress as historical figures!