Halloween, German Style

Halloween pumpkinSince the early 1990s, Halloween has become increasingly popular in Germany. Essentially, it’s “Karneval” in October: Another opportunity for young and old to dress in funny costumes. Although not as common as in the U.S., you see more and more children (with parental guides) go from door to door with cries of, “Süßes, oder es gibt was Saures!” (roughly translated as”trick or treat”). The celebration of all things ghoulish, creepy, and spooky is especially poignant at the original Frankenstein Castle close to Frankfurt.


Looking to buy German Halloween novelties right now? Visit our sister site TheTasteOfGermany for a selection of gummies, mis-fortune cookies and chocolates!

Karneval in October

Witch with ChampagnePrior to the 1990s, Halloween was not commonly observed in Germany. This fright fest with Celtic roots was, unfortunately, a uniquely American party. However, in 1991, Karneval festivities in February were abruptly canceled due to the start of the first Gulf War. The producers of costumes, candies and toys had to think of other opportunities to sell their wares to Germans. What better way to do this than to celebrate Halloween in October? After all, it was already very popular in the United States! Halloween in October was warmly welcomed, and the ghoulish celebration is now (almost) as popular as Oktoberfest!

Halloween Party Menu

Halloween CostumesWhen they are too old to trick-or-treat, teenagers in Germany love to throw Halloween parties. These parties are very similar to those hosted by their U.S. counterparts Uniquely German Halloween party beverages include hot apple punch and cold “Blood Punch”— rum, grape juice, and lemon juice served in a carved out pumpkin. How about the “Dragonblood Drink,” made from grenadine, lemon juice, cherry juice and orange/pineapple juice? (The drinking age in Germany is 16 for beer and wine and 18 for hard alcohol). To color food, use red beet juice or black elderberry syrup. Germans also have their own special Halloween snacks and dishes. For example, spicy deviled eggs or pumpkin soup are very popular even among German youth.

It’s Alive!

Frankenstein Castle in Germany at sunset in close upArguably, the coolest partei (party) takes place at Frankenstein’s castle (Burg Frankenstein) in the thickly forested Oldenwald mountains near the city of Darmstadt. Allegedly, Mary Shelley visited the ancient castle and was inspired in part by it to create her famous novel, Frankenstein. Shelley may also have been influenced by Johann Konrad Dippel, a alchemist and occultist who was born in the castle in the seventeenth century, and who is reputed to have performed experiments on dead bodies he dug up. Although the author’s connection is disputed and most of the castle is in ruins today, it remains a popular spot for the ultimate Halloween event.  The adjoining restaurant also serves a special Gruseldinner (“horror dinner”) on October 31.

Candy Corn

Candy CornFollowing the American Civil War, Gustav and Albert Goelitz traveled from Germany to Illinois to join an uncle who had emigrated in 1834. After Gustav’s death, his two eldest sons revived the candy business that he and Albert had founded. The story goes that some time in the 1880s the Goelitz Confectionery Co. invented the popular Halloween treat known as Candy Corn. Records show that Goelitz was making candy corn by 1900. That firm’s successor, today’s Herman Goelitz, Inc. of Fairfield, California, is best known as the maker of Jelly Belly jelly bean candy.

When the Goelitz Confectionery Company first produced candy corn, it was called “Chicken Feed.” The boxes were illustrated with a colorful rooster logo and a tag line that read “Something worth crowing for.” According to the National Confectioners Association, more than 35 million pounds (or nine billion pieces) of candy corn will be produced this year. Candy corn contains roughly 28 grams of sugar and only 140 calories per heaping handful — and it’s fat free! In honor of their Goelitz roots, Jelly Belly developed a candy corn-flavor jelly bean.

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Halloween and Candy Corn