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How do the French celebrate Halloween?

The Local France
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How do the French celebrate Halloween?
Enthusiasts dressed take part in the Zombie Walk event at Place de la Republique in Paris in 2019. (Photo by Martin BUREAU / AFP)

Visitors from countries such as the UK and - in particular the USA - might be expecting to see the shops full of pumpkins, ghost costumes and mini candy, but in France things are a little more restrained around Halloween.

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While the French do acknowledge the event, it's much less of a big deal that it is in some other countries.

That's not to say it isn't marked though - a 2021 survey by YouGov found that about one in three French people celebrate Halloween "at least occasionally". That being said, only eight percent said they celebrate every year, though this does increase among 18-34 year olds and parents.

As of 2021, around 37 percent of French people said they intended to decorate their homes (eg. adding the occasional broomstick or spiderweb to the exterior of one's home), and around 28 percent said they would carve a Halloween pumpkin.

Many French people view Halloween with some skepticism, with 37 percent considering it to be 'commercial'. About a quarter (25 percent) see it as 'just for kids'.

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Nevertheless, French supermarkets usually start to boast some ready-made decorations by mid-October, and at least a few shelves of trick-or-treat ready candy and sweets.

That's because - unsurprisingly - French children have really taken to the idea of roaming their neighbourhood in creepy costumes demanding sugary snacks. As of 2021, around a third of French households said they planned to 'trick-or-treat'. 

It's not as ubiquitous as it is in the USA - and it is certainly less of a month-long event - but you may get a few mini ghouls or witches knocking on your door come October 31st.

And one side of the festival that France has really taken to is the blood and gore.

One American in Paris told The Local in a previous interview: "In the States the costumes are a lot more fun, or sexy, but in France they really like the horror aspect."

Each year, the Disneyland Paris hosts an annual Halloween festival, where the 'villains' take over the park. There is also Parc Asterix, which offers a scarier night of Halloween fun. If you want to take younger children, you can go to the 'Petit frisson' (small scare) section. 

There are also an increasing number of events with some cities hosting 'zombie walks' and fancy dress events. The Paris zombie walk has already taken place - it shuffled forward from Place de la République last Saturday. 

Pumpkin lanterns are a less common, however. Although you will find the vegetable in the shops at around this time of year, the majority of French people are buying them to cook, not carve.

READ MORE: A guide for how to enjoy fall in France for homesick Americans

But in good news, the French do celebrate the season in much more practical way - by giving people the day off.

November 1st, All Saints Day known as Toussaint in France, is a bank holiday.

That means if you're going to a Halloween party you don't need to worry about being hungover at work the following day. This year November 1st falls right in the middle of the week on a Wednesday.

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