Waygooks love Halloween! We love it so much and truth be told, most of us are unable to explain to a Korean what the holiday is for or why we have it. Today, it is most widely celebrated in North America and parts other English speaking countries. I was recently put on the spot by a Korean what the holiday was for, so I decided to look it up.
Halloween traditions began over two thousand years ago in Northern Europe amongst the ancient Pagan and Celt religions. They celebrated their New Years on November 1st. This is when the weather started getting colder and the days grew shorter. They associated this time of year with death. They believed that the night before, on October 31st, the dead rose from the grave and would walk amongst the living once more. This day became the pagan festival of Samhain and people would dress up like ghosts and ghouls to not be recognized as human beings by any evil spirits that rose that night.
In the 800s, the Christian church moved their holiday of "All Saint's Day" from May to November 1st to help incorporate church doctrine into already existing pagan holidays (same as with Easter and Christmas). October 31st thus became All Hallows' Eve ("hallow" meaning "saint").
The church also made November 2nd "All Souls Day", a day set apart for the commemoration of all the dead. In the 15th century, during the All Souls Day festival in England, poor people would beg for "soul cakes," made out of square pieces of bread with currants. Families would give these away for a promise to pray for the family's relatives. The practice, which was referred to as "going a-souling" was taken up by children who would visit the houses of their neighborhood and they would be given ale, food, and money.
After the potato famine of 1848, millions of Irish emigrants poured into America and brought with them their adapted traditions of Halloween. They called Halloween "Oidche Shamhna" ("Night of Samhain"), as their ancestors had, and they kept traditional observances. Halloween has been a widely popular holiday in North America since then.
So, that's Halloween. People carve pumpkins. They dress up like anything they want. They go to parties. They watch scary movies. They hand out candy to children. They have fun. Koreans that get a taste of what Halloween is usually enjoy it and it is only a matter of time before this holiday becomes more widely accepted and popularized in Korea.
Waygooks who dress up for Halloween while living in Korea also incorporate some of their costume ideas with distinctly Korean cultural aspects. Here are some I found.
This waygook decided to dress up like an Ajumma... which is an old Korean woman.
I saw several people dressed up as "fan death." A clever play on a hilarious Korean superstition.
This waygook dressed up as a nora bong machine. There is a microphone in the guys hand.
Koreans love their phones and they love their phone charms. This guy is his phone's charm.
If anyone remembers the insanity of the swine flu scare last year in Korea, this guy was dressed as swine flu.
Koreans get into it as well. Here is a Harry Potter.