Jacek here - lead designer on Wanderlust Travel Stories. I've always thought it's one of the coolest holidays you can imagine. You get to dress as a monster and collect candy around the neighborhood. Fun! But in Poland, when I was younger, I only knew it from TV. In our culture, we do celebrate the dead around this time, but in a wholly different manner.
If you follow Wanderlust: Travel Stories, it's probably because you're curious about the cultures of the world, so here's more about what we do instead of trick-or-treating.
For a person from outside the Slavic region, the Poles' traditional approach to faith and death may seem a bit stiff. We don't sing too many uplifting songs in our churches, and the mass is less about being with the community than about diving into your inner self and quietly contemplating your soul. This is also how we honor our dead.
On November 1, we celebrate All Saints' Day, which is a public holiday. Its name is self-explanatory, however, on November 2, there's the All Souls' Day. This is the proper date when we should honor the departed. These two have mixed in the public consciousness and what we got is two days of not-quite-Halloween.
On those days, Poles light candles on the graves of their close ones. It is also customary to put a candle on unattended graves, under crosses or statues, or graves of unknown soldiers (which are a common sight, considering the scope of the tragedy of World War II in Poland). This results in truly breathtaking views of cemeteries sparkling with thousands and thousands of lights.
We don't dress up or throw parties on All Saints' / Souls’ Day. Still, the atmosphere is hardly grim. It's a paradox, but it's when life is truly bustling. Thousands visit the cemeteries, there's so much positivity and openness around, and the bright aura seen in the evening is a sight to behold. I am not a religious person myself, yet it’s hard not to get captivated by the spirit of this day.
I presume that what you read above is a common tradition across the Slavic countries, however, I can only speak from my own perspective. What do you do in your country around Halloween?