Autumn, with its vibrant foliage and crisp air, is celebrated in various ways across the world. From harvest feasts to spiritual observances, fall is a season of transition, gratitude, remembrance, and celebration across cultures.

Here are some exciting autumn traditions from different corners of the globe!

Mid-Autumn Festival (China)

Known as the Moon Festival, this is one of the most significant celebrations in China, and is a time for family reunions, moon gazing, and enjoying mooncakes—a traditional delicacy. The festival commemorates the legend of the Moon Goddess, Chang’e.

Dia de los Muertos (Mexico)

Translating to the Day of the Dead, this vibrant celebration is about honoring deceased loved ones. Families set up altars with photos, favorite foods, and possessions of the departed. The streets come alive with parades, calavera makeup, and marigold decorations.

Samhain (Ireland, Scotland)

This ancient Gaelic festival marks the end of the harvest season and the beginning of winter. Participants light bonfires and wear costumes to ward off malicious spirits. Many believe that Samhain is the origin of modern-day Halloween.

Oktoberfest (Germany)

Originating in Munich, Oktoberfest is now celebrated worldwide. However, the heart of the festivities remains in Germany, where people come together for beer, pretzels, sausages, and lively folk music in this multi-week event.

Chuseok (Korea)

Often described as the Korean Thanksgiving, Chuseok is a major harvest festival. Families come together to share food and give thanks to their ancestors. Songpyeon, a type of rice cake filled with sweet or semi-sweet ingredients, is a must-eat.

Martinmas / St. Martin’s Day (parts of Europe)

Celebrated in honor of St. Martin of Tours, Martinmas—or Old Halloween—is the feast day marking the time when autumn wheat seeding is completed. It’s also associated with the slaughter of fattened cattle and the arrival of new wine. Geese are traditionally eaten, and children often parade with lanterns.

Törggelen (South Tyrol, Italy)

In this tradition, people embark on wine taverns to enjoy the season’s new wine and savor roasted chestnuts. The ritual marks a moment of relaxation after grape harvesting and before the winter sets in.

Cranberry Festival (USA, Canada)

Various regions in North America, particularly in the Northeastern US and Canada, celebrate the harvest of cranberries. These festivals feature delicious cranberry dishes, parades, and even cranberry bog tours.

Pumpkin Festival (USA)

Throughout the United States, especially in New England, towns host pumpkin festivals celebrating the harvest and the vibrant colors of autumn. Events often include pumpkin carving contests, hayrides, and the crowning of the biggest pumpkin.

Related: 6 Best USA Fall Festivals—Oktoberfest, Balloon Fiesta & More

Mabon (Neo-Pagan)

Mabon, or the Autumn Equinox, is a neo-pagan, Wiccan festival celebrating the Autumn Equinox, the balance between light and dark as the day and night are of equal length. It’s a time for giving thanks and for reflection, celebrated with feasts, music, and dancing.

Erntedankfest (Germany)

This German harvest thanksgiving festival is similar to the American Thanksgiving. The festival is marked by church services, processions, music, and dance, complete with a wheelbarrow race, crowning of a royal clogs couple, and more.

Festival of the Dead (Italy)

In this Sicilian tradition, families remember their departed loved ones by setting a place for them at the dinner table and serving their favorite foods. This is a joyful, celebratory festival honoring good memories and loved ones, with a day full of sugary foods, fun festivals, and gift exchanges.

Meskel (Ethiopia)

This Christian festival marks the finding of the True Cross by St. Helena. Celebrated with huge bonfires that symbolize the cross’s discovery, Meskel also coincides with the mass blooming of yellow daisies across the country.

Pchum Ben (Cambodia)

Often referred to as Ancestors’ Day, Pchum Ben is a 15-day Cambodian religious holiday. People offer food to monks and visit temples to make offerings to departed ancestors. It’s believed that the dead ancestors come to visit the living during this time.

Kekri (Finland)

An ancient Finnish harvest festival, Kekri marked the end of the agricultural year. Celebrations included feasts, where foods like kekripukki (a type of bread) were enjoyed. While the tradition dwindled in the 20th century, many Finnish towns are now reviving Kekri celebrations—including burning a giant Kekri goat made of straw.

Dożynki (Poland)

A traditional Slavic harvest festival, Dożynki celebrates the end of the farming year. A ceremonial wreath, made from ears of grain and representing the spirit of harvest, is presented in a ceremonial procession, followed by feasting, singing, and dancing.

Each of these traditions emphasizes the importance of community, gratitude, and the cyclical nature of the seasons. They’re testaments to how cultures around the world honor the earth’s bounties and the transitions of life.

What autumn festivals or observances do you enjoy? Share your stories with the Frayed Passport community!

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