Quote EndQuote Cross-Cultural Strategy

Cultural Snapshot – Halloween 2014

Posted by Alisa | 10.31.14
Halloween Trick-or-Treaters  (image by Steven Depolo via Flickr)

Halloween Trick-or-Treaters (image by Steven Depolo via Flickr)

Halloween Celebrations


In Canada, when it comes to cultural events and celebrations, there are few observances that all Canadians can get behind. One is New Year’s Eve –which most Canadians celebrate because they follow the Gregorian calendar for personal, if not for practical, reasons. Another one is All Hallow’s Eve, or Halloween, as it’s commonly known.

Some Halloween Facts:

Last Halloween, 51,634 tonnes of pumpkins were sold in Canada, worth $18 million dollars in total!

On Halloween night, Canadian children will visit approx. 13.3 million private homes across the nation. They will stroll up to each door, chanting “Trick or Treat, Smell My Feet, Give Me Something Good to Eat!” Either a treat is offered to the awaiting children, or a nasty treat may be in store!

In many Asian countries, it is difficult to find pumpkins for sale. Some squashes are sold, including winter melons, which can be found pre-sliced in the produce section of Asian grocery stores. But the most common usage for winter melons is to cube them and boil them up in soup.

The idea of trick-or-treating, or going door-to-door on Halloween night, is very foreign to many newcomers to Canada, especially immigrants from Asia or South Asia. They might not understand some of the strange rituals associated with this holiday. Marketers need to explain the context to them, get them to understand the meaning of Halloween. Most importantly, marketers, employers, co-workers, teachers and neighbours should encourage participation in Halloween festivities. Get people to join in the fun and promote Halloween as a family-friendly activity, where the whole family can dress-up and enjoy an evening of magic and make-believe.

One culture that embraces the Halloween spirit, but in a more pure form, are Mexicans. They call it ‘The Day of the Dead’ and instead of being celebrated on October 31st, it is celebrated over two days, November 1st and November 2nd. ‘The Day of the Dead’ also has an added meaning for the Mexican people. It is not just a day of celebrations and parties, but it is also a day to honor their ancestors and these occasions can be as big or small as the family decides.

Some religions also have an “Honor Your Ancestors” day, which is different from the “Day of the Dead”. Why is this important to know? To reach a wider audience, marketers need to learn about different cultures and religious backgrounds, especially ones that might be unfamiliar to them or very different from their own. Learn both the traditional and modern ways that people observe holidays and celebrations. This insight into different cultures will certainly help you market your ideas and your products more effectively.