As the leaves start to change color and the weather gets cooler, it's time to start thinking about all the wonderful traditions associated with autumn. From apple picking and pumpkin carving to Halloween and Thanksgiving, there are so many fun things to do in the fall. But did you know that Europeans have their own set of autumn traditions? Check out these unique traditions from different European countries that you'll definitely want to try this season!
- Souling in Ireland and Scotland - This centuries-old tradition involves people going door-to-door on Halloween night singing songs in exchange for food. In Ireland, the food is typically Soul Cakes, which are small round cakes made from flour, milk, and sugar. In Scotland, the food is often shortbread or oatcakes. Halloween originated in Ireland, and the country still celebrates the holiday with gusto today. On Halloween night, Irish children dress up in costumes and go door-to-door trick-or-treating. Bonfires are also a popular tradition—people gather around them to sing songs, tell stories, and roast marshmallows. In recent years, Dublin has even hosted a Halloween festival called Bram Stoker Fest which features events like gothic walking tours and fancy dress balls. So if you're looking for a Halloween celebration with a bit of Irish flair, Dublin is the place to be.
- Oktoberfest (Germany) You can't talk about European autumn traditions without mentioning Oktoberfest. This world-famous festival takes place in Munich, Germany every year and attracts millions of visitors from all over the globe. Oktoberfest is all about beer, food, and fun. Visitors can enjoy traditional German dishes like sauerkraut and schnitzel, listen to live music, and drink beer by the litre. The festival runs for two weeks from late September to early October. If you're planning a trip to Europe this autumn, make sure to add Oktoberfest to your itinerary!
- All Souls' Day (Spain). In Spain, All Souls' Day (November 2nd) is a day to remember and pray for departed loved ones. Families visit cemeteries to lay flowers on the graves of their deceased relatives and light candles in their memory. Many Spaniards also prepare special meals on All Souls' Day consisting of traditional dishes like panellets (almond cakes) and torrijas (fried bread dipped in honey). These meals are shared with friends and family as a way of remembering departed loved ones and celebrating the lives they lived.
- Martinstag in Germany - On November 11th, Germans celebrate Martinstag, or St. Martin's Day. The holiday commemorates St. Martin of Tours, who was known for his acts of charity. On this day, children often dress up as beggars and go from door to door singing songs and collecting money for the poor.
- Festa dei Morti in Italy - Italians celebrate All Saints' Day (Festa dei Morti) on November 1st with a special meal of traditional dishes like rice balls (suppli), fried bread with anchovies (fried Zeppole), and caponata (eggplant salad). After lunch, families visit cemeteries to pay respects to their deceased loved ones.
- Törggelen in Italy and Austria - Törggelen is a tradition that dates back to the 16th century and is still widely practiced today in regions of Italy and Austria. It typically takes place between October and November after the grape harvest when new wine is ready to taste. Families and friends come together for a large feast featuring roasted chestnuts, local cured meats, and freshly made cheese before heading out into the vineyards for a day of grape picking.
- Kekri in Finland - Kekri is a Finnish festival that marks the end of the harvest season and the beginning of winter. It typically takes place around late October or early November depending on when the last crops are harvested. Traditional Kekri celebrations include bonfires, feasting on newly slaughtered animals, fortune telling, and visiting neighbors to wish them a prosperous winter season.
Whether you're looking for an excuse to eat lots of delicious food or want to try something new this autumn, consider incorporating one of these unique European traditions into your fall festivities! From Souling in Ireland to Törggelen in Austria, there's something for everyone to enjoy. And who knows? You might just discover a new favorite tradition!