Like most holidays, New Orleans always does it better. From joyful parades to extravagant decorations, nothing beats the crispy season of scares and pretending into the depths of the night. Something about Halloween in New Orleans devotes spookiness and exhilaration to a whole other degree compared to the rest of the United States. It may be the parades and ghost tours. Or, it’s New Orleans’ deep-embedded history with Halloween and the spiritual practice of Voodoo. Nevertheless, the collision of the city’s history with its ever-so-present celebrations amounts to a Halloween season like no other. But you may wonder, how did we get here?
The Catholics built the city’s Halloween traditions. They celebrate “The Feast of All Souls” on November 2. This celebration is done after November 1, known as the All Hallows or All Saints Day tradition. Catholics in New Orleans gather to clean their family members’ tombs and celebrate their love and loss. Today, cemeteries around New Orleans carry forth this tradition as families pray, whitewash tombs, leave flowers or beads, and light candles, a practice rooted in Creole and Choctaw culture. This celebration is amplified in New Orleans and is celebrated yearly by locals.
All Saints Day and The Feast of All Souls are two days following Halloween that exemplify New Orleans’ ingrained traditions and illuminance of the holiday. Another aspect of New Orleans is the practice of Louisiana Voodoo, which is unique to this city due to its abundance in New Orleans, specifically with many attractions around the Halloween season. Voodoo arrived in Louisiana by enslaved West Africans. The religion is a blend of their rituals and the local Catholic practices. The belief grew when Voodoo followers from Haiti fled to New Orleans after the 1791 slave revolt. Voodoo rituals involve connecting with spirits through dance, music, and chanting. There are many New Orleans Voodoo attractions, specifically around Halloween, that are significant characteristics of this upcoming spooky season. However, it is important to distinguish some of these exaggerated tourist attractions from the individual spiritual traditions. Nevertheless, festivals such as Voodoo Fest and ghost tours that include Marie Laveau, queen of Voodoo’s tomb, are personal to New Orleans. These traditions and stories embody the spirit and individualism of this city.
The history and traditions during the days leading up to and following Halloween are like no other city in the United States. Spiritual practices float throughout the city through ghostly parade floats during Krewe de Boo, zombies running through the streets at the New Orleans Zombie Run, and the whistling wind that flows along the many haunted houses. So, one thing is for sure: if you love all things eerie mixed with festivity and music, New Orleans is the place to be this October.