People in many countries around the world believe that All Hallow's Eve (Halloween) is the one night a year when the living and the dead come together as the veil temporarily drops between their two worlds. Dressing up in costume, trick-or-treating, exploring haunted houses, and other spooky activities are among the most popular past times on the final day of October. Adventure seekers who want to take their celebration to another level can consider Halloween travel to Transylvania, the setting for Bram Stoker's classic vampire story, Dracula.
Many historians believe the folk beliefs of people living in Celtic-speaking countries had the greatest influence on many of today's most popular modern customs. Many link it to a festival known as Samhain, which marks the end of summer and was celebrated in Scotland and Ireland. Traditions include setting a place for dead relatives to invite them home, performing rituals to divine the future, and lighting bonfires to hold off the coming winter.
The ancient tradition of wearing animal pelts to escape detection by the dead as they walked among the living evolved into donning elaborate costumes. Popular modern designs include vampires, werewolves, witches, and other scary creatures, though some adults now opt for funny or sexy costumes on this one night when they can drop their inhibitions and be anything they want to be.
Transylvania is in Romania at the foot of the Carpathian mountains. Vlad the Impaler belonged to the House of Darculesti and ruled the region during the mid-1500s. Also known as Dracula, his name inspired Bram Stoker to call the main character in his 1897 novel Count Dracula.
Visitors to this region for Halloween will find a more authentic and less commercialized observance of this season than is typically seen in the United States. Guests travel back through time as they make their way through winding streets of quaint historic villages. Exploration of Gothic castles and Saxon citadels offer unique vistas and the opportunity to delve deeper into the region's history and culture.
Many tour operators offer package deals for travelers who want to experience this charming yet mysterious region of the world. Some focus on the spooky aspects of the region, especially its ties to Stoker's Dracula. Others highlight the culture and traditions of the area with wine tasting adventures, Romanian folklore presentations and castle tours.