Do you want to celebrate Halloween in France? Some might think these festivities aren’t well-known in this country, but for the last few years, Halloween has gained popularity and you’ll find plenty of things to do around the end of October.
Halloween, with its origins in Celtic and Christian traditions, has transcended borders and become a global celebration of spooky festivities. In France, Halloween has gained popularity in recent years, merging its American roots with French culture and traditions. While it may not be as deeply ingrained as some other holidays, Halloween is certainly making its presence known in the land of croissants and fine wine.
The Origins of Halloween in France
Halloween, or “All Hallows’ Eve,” has its roots in Celtic festivals, particularly the ancient Gaelic festival of Samhain, which marked the end of the harvest season and the beginning of winter. The Celts believed that during Samhain, the boundary between the living and the dead blurred, allowing spirits to roam the earth. When Christianity spread to Celtic regions, November 1st became All Saints’ Day (La Toussaint in French), a day to honor saints and martyrs. Halloween, celebrated on October 31st, is the eve before this holy day.
Traditional French Halloween
In rural parts of France, you can still find traces of the ancient Celtic influence in Halloween celebrations. Some villages hold bonfire festivals, reminiscent of the Celtic Samhain bonfires. People gather around these fires, dressed in costumes, and share stories. These gatherings maintain a connection to the historical roots of Halloween.
But Halloween in France is really not a traditional holiday! Actually, it came from North America in the 1990s : younger generations are used to it because of the American culture seeping in France, but it’s not celebrated by every family.
The practice of trick-or-treating has become more popular in France, especially in urban areas. Children, dressed in costumes, go door-to-door, chanting “des bonbons ou un sort” (that you would translate as “candies or a spell”). While it is not as widespread as in the United States, it is catching on, and many shops now stock Halloween-themed candies. Still, many French people think Halloween is too commercial.
Halloween Decorations in France
Halloween decorations are another growing trend in France. You’ll find storefronts, houses, and public spaces adorned with spooky decorations, including cobwebs, skeletons, and jack-o’-lanterns. French families often decorate their homes, particularly in suburban neighborhoods, to create a festive and eerie atmosphere. You might not find many houses going all in like in the United States (we’re talking about giant skeletons, smoking cauldrons and inflatable ghosts on the front porch) but still, the Halloween spirit is here.
Costumes and Parties
Costume parties and gatherings have become increasingly popular among young adults in France. These parties provide an opportunity for people to dress up in creative and spooky costumes, showcasing their love for Halloween. Whether it’s vampires, witches, or zombies, you’ll find a wide array of costumes at these gatherings. There are also “horror movies marathon” parties: there are plenty of French scary movies to watch…
French Haunted Houses
Haunted houses and haunted attractions have started to appear in France during the Halloween season. These interactive experiences are designed to give visitors a taste of fear and excitement, offering a unique way to celebrate the holiday. Visitors can explore dark and eerie settings, complete with actors in costume who provide scares and thrills. And every year, Disneyland Paris is offering a Halloween festival : spooky decorations, parades, Disney villains meet and greets, special food…
Halloween in France is a fascinating blend of ancient Celtic traditions and modern American influences. While it may not yet rival the scale of Halloween celebrations in countries like the United States and Canada, Halloween’s popularity is steadily growing in France. From bonfires and pumpkin carving to trick-or-treating and costume parties, Halloween in France offers a delightful fusion of old and new traditions.