Halloween Around the World

Halloween is just around the corner! If you live in the United States, that probably means costumes, candy, and possibly some pranks. But what is Halloween like in other parts of the world?

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The holiday most likely has its origins in Ireland’s ancient Celtic festival of Samhain, when people wore costumes and lit bonfires to frighten away the spirits. In Ireland today, many people celebrate Halloween by dressing up and lighting bonfires like the ancient Celts did. Much like kids in the United States, Irish children go trick-or-treating and attend Halloween parties with family and friends. They play games like “bobbing for apples” and “snap-apple,” where you hang an apple on a string and jump up to see if you can bite it. And of course, some Irish children play tricks on their neighbors. You can make barnbrack, a popular Halloween confection in Ireland, using this recipe

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In Spanish-speaking countries like Mexico, the celebration of Día de los Muertos (Day of the Dead) begins on the evening of October 31st. Many families make altars honoring their loved ones who have passed, which can include photographs, candles, and even the deceased’s favorite foods and drinks. On November 2nd, the whole family has a picnic to celebrate and reminisce about the lives of their loved ones. They eat treats such as breads and sweets shaped like skulls and skeletons. You can make your own delicious sugar skulls by following this recipe!

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Wherever you are in the world, we hope you have lots of fun this Halloween!

International Halloween Traditions For Kids

Most people associate Halloween with the United States, but did you know that it actually began as a Celtic holiday and is still celebrated throughout the world? According to the National Endowment for the Humanities, the day was originally called Samhain, or "Summer's End," and marked the end of the harvest season for Celtic farmers. October 31st was considered a day when the normally strict boundaries between the worlds of the living and the dead were blurred, and the ghosts of those who had passed away came back to earth.

The traditions of costumes, parades, and playing scary pranks and tricks are rooted in ancient practices as well. By wearing masks and costumes, people would try to fool the spirits into believing they were also ghosts, so the spirits would leave them alone on Halloween night.

But celebrations of the dead aren't limited to the ancient Celts and modern Americans. According to Education Magazine, countries all over the world hold their own similar festivals to honor the dead.

Mexico: Perhaps the most famous outside of the American holiday, Mexicans celebrate Dia de los Muertos, or Day of the Dead, on November 1st and 2nd. It's a time for family and friends to remember departed loved ones. Day of the Dead bread, or "Pan de Muerto," is a quintessential dish made during Dia de los Muertos. Learn to make you own here.

Great Britain: The British celebrate by partying in costumes from October 31st to November 5th, Guy Fawkes Night. On this night, the Brits commemorate the infamous British traitor Guy Fawkes by lighting bonfires.

Ireland: Honoring its Celtic heritage, Halloween is still celebrated today in Ireland. Barmbrack, a sweet fruit bread, is traditionally served on Halloween night. Check out a great recipe here.

China: The Chinese festival of Teng Chieh is a Lantern Festival that closes off Chinese New Year celebrations. Lanterns formed like dragons, swans, and other animals are hung in the streets or near households, protecting people from evil and lighting the way for wandering spirits. Check out this easy craft so your little one can make his or her own lantern for Halloween.

Japan: In Japan, the Obon Festival is celebrated in the summer to honor the spirits of the dead. During the festival, is lit each night to guide a spirit to its family’s location so that the dead can return to where they were born.

Halloween is a great time to introduce your child to some of the other cultural festivities celebrated by children around the world. Introduce some of these global traditions to your kids, and check out our Halloween board on Pinterest for fun crafts, recipes and cultural activities you can share with your little ones this Halloween.

photo credit: Ariel Ophelia via photopincc

Kids Cook! Frozen Delights for Summer: Mexican Paletas

Looking for ways to beat the heat this summer? Turn your freezer into a private popsicle stand – it’s a chilly, fun, tasty way to beat the summer heat. Oh, and did we mention economical, too?

Ice pops are popular around the world, especially in Mexico where paletas, ice pops made from unusual tropical flavors (think tamarind, mango lime, or watermelon and cucumber) are a super refreshing way to cool off on the tropical beaches. On the creamy side, there’s even arroz con leche (rice pudding) paletas, Mexican chocolate (cinnamon flavored), and avocado frozen treats as well.

Authentic Mexican paletas often combine a bit a savory, or even spicy, flavors together – pineapple and jalapeno or mango and chile, ice pops are even dipped in savory spices – we’ve decided to go with a sweeter version here though.

To make Paletas at home, think about whether you prefer an agua (water) based pop or one made with leche (milk) for a creamier treat.

Then the sky’s the limit as far as flavors – if you have lots of berries on hand, puree them in the blender or food processor. Then pour through a fine sieve to discard seeds. Add sugar (about 1 tbsp per ½ cup of fruit). Mix with milk, yogurt, juice, or water – then freeze.

To freeze paletas, you don’t need fancy equipment. Have a Dixie cup and a popsicle stick? You’re in business! Plastic ice pop trays can be picked up at the supermarket, dollar store, or even drugstores.

The trick, especially with small children, is patience – paletas, and all ice pops, need time to freeze. But if you start these in the morning, they should be ready after dinner. Or make the night before for the next afternoon.

For a fun summer activity, try setting up a paletas bar with a variety of juices, yogurt, plus assorted chopped up fruit and let the kids play ice chef!

We created two easy, tasty, fresh, and relatively healthy paletas combos below.

But use your imagination – Enjoy!

Orange and Blackberry Paletas

  • * 1 cup Orange juice
  • * ½ cup Pomegranate juice
  • * ½ cup Blackberries

Pour a layer of orange juice into pop mold. Freeze until firm.

Mash blackberries and combine with pomegranate juice (strain through a fine colander if mixture is too thick).

Fill molds rest of way with pom/blackberry combo

Freeze until hard.

Strawberry Lemonade

  • * Store bought lemonade
  • * Squeeze of lime juice
  • * Fresh strawberries

Mince or thinly slice strawberries. Combine with lemonade and lime juice.

Freeze in pop molds.

 Bonus Recipes

Mexican Chocolate Fudgicles: prepare instant chocolate pudding mix. Add ½ tsp of cinnamon and dash of vanilla. Pour into molds. Freeze.

Watermelon Paletas: Puree watermelon in the blender, add a squeeze of lime. Combine with a simple syrup (equal parts sugar and water, boiled, then cooled) to get desired consistency and sweetness (you may find you prefer the pops sugarless). Freeze.

Love these Mexican –influenced ice pops? Discover more Spanish language fun with our Spanish Discovery Set, here.

5 DIY Halloween Costumes with Global Appeal

Looking for some inspiration for your family's Halloween costumes this year? Pull out the globe and give it a spin. With a little inspiration from our great DIY globally-inspired options below, and a few accessories, your kids’ costumes will be United Nations worthy in no time.

1. Harajuku Girls, Japan -- Here’ an opportunity to open up the costume chest and go wild. Fun-loving Harajuku girls are known for their creative style of dress and love of all things kitsch --- to channel their irrepressible style into a unique Halloween costume, think layers: Start with striped knee socks, layered crinoline skirts, and a Hello Kitty tee or the like. Then add HIGH pigtails tied with bows and layer on the plastic accessories. Add some glittery makeup and you’re ready to rock the trick-or-treat block.

2. Gondolier, Italy – This is an easy and memorable costume. To start, your little gondolier will need a striped shirt and black pants, plus a round-rimmed hat (party stores often have inexpensive Styrofoam versions). Take a trip to the trim department of the craft store for thick red ribbon (about 6 inches across) for a waist sash and a thinner red ribbon to tie around the base of the hat. Then add a broom, small oar, or even a long dowel to stand in for an oar. Extra points for crooning “Amore”.

3. Frida Kahlo, Mexico – The beloved Mexican artist had a unique look that’s easy and fun to recreate. Pick up a felt mustache at the party store and stick between the eyebrows (conversely, use an eyebrow pencil to create a uni-brow). Tuck brightly colored silk, paper, or plastic flowers in a wreath around the hair. Add a fringed shawl around the shoulders and wear a peasant skirt and brightly colored shirt. Palette optional.

4. Ninja, Japan – A comfy, easy, and easily recognizable costume for boys or girls. Start with black pajamas, black sweats, karate gear, or a black fitted tee and soft pants. Take a plain black head scarf and wrap tightly around the head and covering the brows, and then another around the mouth and chin. At the craft store, purchase red masking tape and the use it to create a criss-cross pattern on lower legs and arms. Add a red sash, and you’re ready to stealthily sneak down the block.

5.French chef– Start with largest white chef hat you can find (party stores sell inexpensive paper ones you can personalize with glitter and markers to say FRANCE or the fine cuisine destination of your choice). A white chef’s coat would be perfect here, but you can improvise with a white karate top, or even long sleeve white tee and a large white apron. Tie a red kerchief tied around the neck, the use plastic measuring cups or spoons or plastic food to accessorize.  Bon appetit!

The Little Pim Kickstarter is Live!

Aaaand we're live! We've only got 30 days to make our goal, so let's make 'em count. We can't do this without your amazing support so click below to learn a little more about the Little Pim ebook Kickstarter, make your pledge, and share with your friends!

Here! Ici! Aquí! Click here!

What Is Kickstarter?

  1. It’s a website where anyone can pitch a creative project. So we’re pitching our ebook!
  2. If you think it’s a good idea, you can back the project. Donations of ALL sizes are welcome
  3. If you back a project with a donation, you get a reward! Our rewards, which would make great holiday gifts, include pre-orders of the ebook, getting your child drawn in as a character, and lots of other surprises in between…
  4. If we reach our goal, we get the funds we need to make the ebook and you get your rewards!
  5. If we don’t make our goal, we get nothing and you don’t get a reward. You also won’t be charged. It’s all or nothing on Kickstarter.

Little Pim Is Making an Ebook!

Leaves may be starting to fall, but it’s still somehow hard to believe that the holiday season is nearly upon us again. As you know, giving your kids the gift of a foreign language early will have a positive impact for years to come… and so will introducing your kids to the cultures and countries that speak those languages. This holiday season Little Pim is making an ebook that will feature beautiful illustrations of our favorite panda visiting his friends in Mexico, France, Brazil, and China! …Maybe.

Unfortunately, airfare for pandas can be prohibitively expensive. That’s why we’ve decided to launch a Kickstarter to produce our first ever holiday ebook! The amazing rewards make perfect holiday gifts. Here’s a sneak peek at a few of our favorites:

  1. Pre-orders of the ebook! (Delivered in time for the holidays, naturally.)
  2. A special thank you included in every copy of the book!
  3. A copy of the ebook plus your child gets drawn in as a character! Wow!
  4. And lots of other surprises…

The campaign should be going live next week, so please keep your eyes peeled for updates… and tell your friends! We'll be sharing more links and information in the coming weeks.

Looking back at some of our old blog posts, you can see that Little Pim has grown tremendously over the last few years, and your continued support will help us make our next big leap… over the ocean!

Multicultural games from around the world - Thanksgiving family fun!

It's almost a Thanksgiving tradition – as you frantically cook, clean, ready the table and prep for company, your kids, helpful at first, inevitably get bored. Sure, you could park them in front of the TV, but parades and bowl games can hold their attention for only so long, despite all those impressive balloon floats. What to do? How about keeping your kids entertained with these children's games from around the world:

Big Snake (Ghana)

This one's great to play with a big group of cousins or neighbors in a large open space, like a basement. The kids choose one person to be the snake, which "lives" in an area marked off by tape, cones or whatever's handy.

When the game starts, the snake emerges from its home turf and tries to eat – or tag – the other players. Once a player has been tagged, he or she becomes part of the snake's body, holding the snake's hand or waist. The snake grows longer as more payers are tagged, but only the snake's head and tail are able to tag other players. If the snake's body breaks, it must return to its home turf and regroup. Free players may deliberately try to break the snake. When all players are part of the snake (or completely exhausted), the game is over. Sssssssso much fun! [More info]

Piedra, Papel o Tijeras (Mexico)

Sure, you could call it Rock, Paper, Scissors, but that wouldn't be nearly as interesting -- plus, this is a great way to introduce Spanish to kids. Whatever language kids use, the game is the same: Kids count to three and then use their hands to make a rock (a fist), paper (an open, flat hand) or scissors (two fingers out). Papel covers piedra, piedra breaks tijeras, and tijeras cuts papel. Terrific for two kids and good for your children's language skills to boot. [More info]

La Barbichette (France)

It's like a staring contest, only with a French rhyme that's easy for kids to learn. Two kids hold each other's chins, stare into each other's eyes and say, "Je te tiens, tu me tiens, par la barbichette;Le premier qui rira, aura une tapette!" (Some versions vary.) The first one to laugh gets a gentle (that part's important to emphasize to your kids) token slap from the one who was able to keep a straight face. Expect lots of giggles from your kids, which is in itself something to be thankful for. [More info]

Does your family have any favorite games from other countries or cultures? If so, please share!

Halloween food around the world

For most American families, Halloween "treats" mean one thing: candy – mounds of bite-size morsels heaped into kids' bags in exchange for that magic phrase: "Trick or treat!" Other cultures, however, celebrate All Souls' Day, All Saints Day or Dia de Los Muertos (Nov. 1 and 2), from which our Halloween (All Hallows Eve) is derived, with different sorts of treats. Why not expand your family's cultural horizons this Halloween by trying some of these traditional sweet treats from around the globe?

Here are a few ideas about food from Halloween around the world - about what people eat in other countries, and recipes to go with them.

Soul cakes (England and Ireland): These sweet, round cakes were traditionally given out in England and Ireland on All Saints Day or All Souls' Day during the Middle Ages to those who went door-to-door saying prayers for the dead in what may be the forerunner to today's trick-or-treating. They can be made with raisins and currents and aromatic spices like allspice, nutmeg, cinnamon and ginger. (Soul cake recipe)

Fave dei morti (Italy): In Italy, All Souls' Day may be celebrated with delicate cookies (sometimes white, brown or pink) – made with almonds and covered with sugar – called Fave dei Morti or Ossei dei Morti, whose name translates to "Beans of the Dead" or "Bones of the Dead." (Fave dei morti recipe; Ossi dei Morti recipe)

Pan de Muerto (Mexico):  This soft sweet bread is a Dia de Los Muertos (Day of the Dead) tradition in Mexico, sometimes eaten at the grave of a loved one or placed on an altar. It may be flavored with orange zest or decorated with a teardrop or bones, perhaps placed in a circle to represent the cycle of life. Some people even mold the bread into animals, angels or other evocative shapes. (Pan de Muerto recipe)

Guagua de pan (Ecuador): These "bread babies" – sweet rolls molded and decorated to look like small children or infants – are part of the Day of the Dead tradition in parts of South America. Often made of wheat and sometimes filled with sweet jelly, they may be exchanged as gifts between families and friends or used ceremonially. (Guagua de pan recipe)

So what are you waiting for? Put down those miniature chocolate bars and start baking. These tasty treats will not only satisfy your sweet tooth, but your appetite for cultural exploration as well.

Halloween Around the World

Halloween traditions from around the world:


In a lot of Latin American countries, All Soul’s Day on November 2nd is a recognized religious holiday, but nowhere is it celebrated quite like Mexico.  In Mexico, the day is known as Dia de los Muertos (the Day of the Dead).  Some traditions – such as kids dressing up in traditionally skeleton motifs and eating  an awful lot of candy – may be familiar to those who celebrate Halloween, but Dia de los Muertos is actually a rich mixture of Aztec and European tradition.


The Aztec festival was a week-long celebration when the souls of the departed would return to the realm of the living, but with the arrival of the Spanish, the colonial rulers of Mexico tried to co-opt this festival into the celebration of the Catholic All Saints Day and All Souls Day.


The festival of the dead in Japan is held in August rather than October, and is known as Obon.  As with many such festivals, this day commemorates the return of the dead to the land of the living, but unlike Halloween, the returning spirits are not malevolent. On Obon, the spirits of the dead return to visit their loved ones, and many Japanese Buddhists prepare special food for the returning spirits, which they place in temples and in their homes.  Obon is also known as the Festival of Lanterns, because the celebration ends with families sending paper lanterns down Japan’s rivers, to guide the spirits back to the realm of the dead until the next year.


In China, the Hungry Ghost Festival also features use of lanterns but rather than a single day, the festival lasts an entire month, during which time the souls of the dead are free to roam the earth. Rather than guiding benevolent spirits back to the realm of the dead, the lanterns are used to ward off potentially malevolent spirits.   Like in Japan, food and gifts are also offered to family members who have passed.  Offerings are also made to other, unknown wondering spirits to placate them, and prevent them from coming into a household and brining bad luck.

Lebanon, Syria, Jordan and Palestine

In certain countries in the Middle East, Arab Christians celebrate Eid il-Burbura (Festival of Saint Barbara) on December 4th. As with Halloween in the US, children dress up in costume and go from door to door.  The holiday has its origins in the story of Saint Barbara, who took on many different disguises in order to evade the persecution. According to the story, Saint Barbara ran through a freshly planted wheat field while fleeing the Romans, which grew instantly to cover her path and help her escape.  Today, seeds are planted ceremonially, and harvested in time for Christmas when they are used to decorate the nativity scene below Christmas trees.

Saudi Arabia, Kuwait and Oman

Qarqu’an is a traditional holiday that has existed for hundreds of years, and is celebrated annually in many Arabic countries such as Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, and Oman.  During the month of Ramadan, children dress in traditional clothing and gather in front of homes to sing in order to receive candies, sweets, and nuts.  Although similar to Halloween, the tradition is not connected to death, but is rather is intended to spread happiness and affection among adults and children.

Cinco de Mayo por qu no?

Whether you are teaching your children Spanish or just looking to expand their awareness of other cultures and traditions, Cinco de Mayo offers a great chance to have some fun with your kids and learn about Mexican culture, music and food.

Cities with large Mexican populations like Los Angeles, Chicago and Houston host annual Cinco de Mayo festivities that draw hundreds of thousands of people every year. Whether or not you live in an area with a large Mexican community, there are many things you can do to celebrate Cinco de Mayo this May 5th:

1) Even the youngest Spanish students can say “Cinco De Mayo”, already a big confidence boost for young language learners! You can lead your kids in a fun chant: ”¡Viva México! Viva el 5 de mayo!”, and even if your kids are not studying Spanish, it’s the second most widely spoken language in the US. Many of those Spanish-speakers are from Mexico, and while Cinco de Mayo does not hold as much significance in Mexico as it does in the abroad, it’s observed in the US as a celebration of Mexican heritage and pride.

2) Mexican food is one of the world’s great cuisines. In fact, in 2003 UNESCO officially declared Mexican food as a piece of the Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity! Although Mexican food can be incredibly complex (some sauces take literally days to make) a lot of Mexican food is simple and fun. Try making guacamole and chips with your kids, or cookies with red, green and white sprinkles (à la Mexican flag). You can also follow this simple guide to create your own maracas, then play Little Pim Spanish Bop while you are cooking and have a Cinco de Mayo dance party!

3) Your kids can understand a good story about the underdog. Tell your kids a simplified version of the history behind Cinco de Mayo, which is really about how a small group of clever, determined people (the Mexicans), overcame a much more powerful, bigger army (who were French). Since kids always can relate to the little guy, they will appreciate this story (leaving out the details about all the gory battles and beheadings, of course).

Most of all, make it fun! ¡Diviértanse! (have fun). Enjoy the fiesta!

Cinco de Mayo Giveaway: Post photos of how you celebrated the holiday to our Facebook page ( for a chance to win a free digital download of any three Little Pim DVDs (worth $41.95). Alternate entry method: email

Try this FREE online game: Spanish Heritage - Piñata Game