Difference Between Halloween in the US and the UK

By RodneyHatfieldJr for Into The Mind

My mate(friend) and I were talking about Halloween and how it will be different with Covid still floating around. As we talked, I realized we had a few significant differences from our brothers and sisters in the UK. I never really thought about how our traditions are distinctive since most US customs have their roots in eastern Europe. After our talk, I came away with this. Common language aside, there are numerous differences between the US and the UK. When it comes to Halloween, Americans and Brits each retain their own way of doing things.



Halloween's Celtic roots are honored through Samhain celebrations. While we Americans recall some of the Celtic roots, we don't typically emphasize Halloween's forebear Samhain. This ancient holiday is still celebrated in Scotland and on the Isle of Man, one of the British Channel Islands, as well as Northern Ireland and Ireland. Meaning "summer's end," Samhain (which takes place from October 31 to November 1) marks the end of the harvest season and symbolizes the divide between the world of the living and the world of the dead. 

Samhain celebrations feature rituals like bonfires and dancing.

Guy Fawkes Day


Celebrated with parades, bonfires, and fireworks on November 5. Some of you might be familiar with the rhyme "Remember, remember the 5th of November." Guy Fawkes Day commemorates the failed Gunpowder Plot. The scheme orchestrated by Roman Catholics in 1605, represents an attempt to blow up Parliament in response to King James I's refusal to expand the religious freedom of Catholics. 

If you add in copious amounts of alcohol, we Americans will start celebrating like Cinco De Mayo. I’m serious, most of us are drunk by the 5th anyway, because the 3rd is our election day. We desperately need some happiness by the 5th.

US costumes aren't always "scary."


In the US, people opt for less traditional costumes. We could start calling it Hoe-oween for the number of sexy costumes. Brits, on the other hand, tend to wear more traditional Halloween costumes, dressing up as ghosts, zombies, and other fearsome creatures. 

This is a place where we in the US have failed. Here half the kids opt for superheroes and Disney whatever. I would rather see someone dressed in a bedsheet than a dozen kids sporting whatever movie is popular that year. Personally, the kid in traditional costumes always gets extra candy. Remember that when visiting my neighborhood. 

Brits don't go wild with Halloween decor.


I call it home decor. Regardless, it's rare for people in the UK to put up an excessive amount of Halloween decorations, while the US goes to extremes like at Christmas time.

Please, it isn’t Halloween unless there is at the very least $1,000 (850 euro) worth of decorations in my yard. 

Halloween treats


You won't find much candy corn in the UK. And I want to know what kind of witchcraft you have to perform to achieve this magnificent achievement. I will eat it, but I will never ever buy the chalky stuff. I maintain a theory that they have not produced any new candy corn in years. The candy companies just go around every November 1st and collect it from all the trash cans and resell it next year. Anyway, spooky sweets like Nestlé Milkybar Ghosts and Cadbury Pumpkin Patch Cakes are sold seasonally in the UK. 

That being said, Screw everyone Reese Pumpkins is the premier Halloween snack. I still have no idea why peanut butter is frown upon across the pond. 

Trick-or-treating is more common in the US.


Going door to door for candy is not as big a deal in the UK. They merely buy Halloween candy for their family. How is that fun?

This is maybe why Halloween isn’t as popular in the UK. You do not have childhood memories of investing hours and walking many miles covered in plastic that sticks to you because of sweat; just to collect a bag of candy(which half is usually the cheap nasty kind you give to your little family members). I have memories of rain, snow, sleet, it didn’t matter. Put a rain or winter coat over your costume and go door to door begging for treats. You come home 5 pounds lighter from all the sweating you did while gathering all those sugary sweets.

Scottish and Irish go Guising.


Dating to the middle ages, guising; a shortening of disguising. It refers to the tradition of dressing kids in old clothes and having them mimic evil spirits on Halloween (known then as the Eve of All Saints Day or All Hallows Eve). Going from house to house, they would be given offerings for warding off evil. Today children still go guising. But they're expected to show off a talent (like singing or reciting a poem) to receive a treat. 

If I have to dance or sing, then I want a full-size candy bar. Fair is fair.

In Scotland and Ireland, it's traditional to carve rutabaga or turnip instead of a pumpkin.


People carve different vegetables. Pumpkins are synonymous with fall in the US. It's hard to think of Halloween without picturing a glowing jack-o'-lantern. People in some parts of the UK make lanterns from other vegetables; namely, rutabagas or turnips. The practice can be traced to an Irish legend about a man named Stingy Jack who was cursed to wander the Earth by the light of a turnip lantern. 

When immigrants from these countries came to the US and couldn't acquire turnips, they used pumpkins instead.

Share this article on: