Emily Ambery | Layout Editor
The Center for Global Engagement hosted a “Halloween Traditions Around the World” event in the Union where students learned how different cultures celebrate Halloween’s hauntings and horrors.
Elena Lazaro and Gianna Baker, peer advisors in the study abroad office, organized the event and encouraged the Duquesne community to share their own traditions for social media.
“It was rewarding to see people find out [how] other cultures celebrate their dead,” Baker said. “It also made people realize their own traditions, a lot of participants went ‘oh I do have special things I do for Halloween.’”
Traditions from Mexico, Nigeria, Italy and England were featured. Italy, Nigeria and Mexico emphasized the importance of deceased loved ones and the traditions that honor them. Lazaro said that she noticed that England shares similar traditions with the United States. Both countries do a night of trick or treating, but England features a more scaled down version.
Italy’s All Saint’s Day, also known as Festa di Tutti i Santi, celebrates all Catholic saints. The public holiday is marked by the gathering of family, church services, public mass held by the Pope and parades with children dressed as their favorite saint.
Following All Saint’s day is All Souls’ Day, il Giorno dei Morti, which is celebrated in Italy on Nov. 2. To celebrate, many Italians return to the villages where they were born and bring flowers to the graves of their ancestors.
Both Lazaro and Baker studied abroad at Duquesne’s Italian campus in Rome during the spring 2023 semester.
“[Thinking globally] expands your mindset to other cultures and different ways of thinking,” Lazaro said.
Nigeria hosts a similar vigil for their deceased family members every two years. Known as the Odo Festival, the Ibo people in southeastern Nigeria believe that their dead family and friends return to Earth for up to six months. Celebrations include chants, masks, special food and performances.
During the event, students were also encouraged to share their own traditions for a Dunkin Donuts munchkin.
Attendee Patty Pannga, who moved from Thailand to Pittsburgh when she was 15, noted that U.S. celebrations were more intense.
“The major difference that I see is that the majority of the people in the U.S. go crazy for decorating their houses while people in Thailand don’t usually decorate their houses all like that,” Pannga said.
Although Thailand does not have a celebration like Halloween, Pannga shared her favorite was giving out candy to children because that’s what her boyfriend and her did for their first date.
“We don’t really have any tradition for Halloween specifically,” Pannga said. “However, in the middle region of Thailand around the time of Halloween, Thai people light up floating lanterns to show respect for nature and the loved ones who have passed.”
Lazaro and Baker also highlighted Mexico for its Día de los Muertos tradition. This two-day celebration features offerings, yellow marigold flowers and Calaveras, the ubiquitous symbol of the festival.
Nico Gutierrez Olvera, who moved to the U.S. about four years ago, noticed the differences in Halloween and Día de los Muertos.
“For me Dia de los Muertos is basically a day to remember and celebrate those who are not with us anymore” he said. “To be honest the main difference is that most of the Mexican traditions are related to our ancestors, so I feel like we are a bit more engaged in traditions.”
Despite the difference in celebration, since being in the U.S. Olvera has come to love American traditions.
“I really enjoy Halloween in the U.S., it’s a completely different experience and I love wearing costumes and going out,” Olvera said. “The energy is really cool and everyone is dressed up as something. They take it to the next level here.”
As Pittsburgh increasingly becomes home to diverse cultures and traditions, the Center for Global Engagement wanted to bring that spirit to the Duquesne community ,according to Lazaro and Baker.
“Pittsburgh is becoming much more of an international city. I think it’s important that when we understand the cultures and traditions of a certain people, we have a better understanding of their perspective,” said Mike Burke, the director of International Student Services. “Not only do we understand their perspective better, we’re also broadening our own perspective.”