Celebrating Halloween in Spain
Halloween in Spain is a three-day celebration, which kicks off with el Dia de las Brujas (Day of the Witches). The following day is Dia de Todos los Santos (All Saints Day) and the celebrations are concluded with the Dia de los Muertos (the Day of the dead) on November 2nd.
El Día de las Brujas
In Spain, 31st October or Halloween is known as El Día de las Brujas (the Day of the Witches).
Although Spain is gradually adopting an American-style Halloween (fancy dress, trick or treating etc), more traditional activities are still popular. 1 November is a national holiday (handy if you’ve been out till late the night before) and is a day for honouring the family’s deceased.
Halloween has its origins in the ancient Celtic festival known as Samhain (pronounced “sah-win”). The festival of Samhain is a celebration of the end of the harvest season in Gaelic culture. Samhain was a time used by the ancient pagans to take stock of supplies and prepare for winter. The ancient Gaels believed that on October 31, the boundaries between the worlds of the living and the dead overlapped and the deceased would come back to life and cause havoc such as sickness or damaged crops. Masks and costumes were worn in an attempt to mimic the evil spirits or appease them.
People may seem to have forgotten the original meaning behind Halloween or never knew about the original meaning, solely because time has changed. In this century, we have a more realistic view on the world. Now-a-days people try to find the most interesting, most beautiful or most scary mask or costume to impress others when it is Halloween. People organize the most fascinating parties and put so much effort in buying and using the right props to make it the scariest experience people will ever have.
November 1st – Día de Todos Los Santos
Spain borrows some traditions from the USA, which originally came from Ireland and Scotland, but each region of Spain has added a local flavour to the celebration. Many of the festivals are linked to the religious feast day known as All Saints’ Day – Día de Todos Los Santos – which is celebrated on 1st November.
All Saint’s Day on The traditional thing to do on November 1st is to purchase flowers and take them to decorate your loved ones’ graves. Churches also hold special masses in memory of all the people who have passed away and the cemeteries are filled with color from every type of flower imaginable. In fact, this is the day of the year when the most flowers are sold.
Dia de los Muertos on November 2nd.
Día de los Muertos is an opportunity to remember and celebrate the lives of departed loved ones. Like any other celebration, Día de los Muertos is filled with music and dancing.
Día de los Muertos originated in ancient Mesoamerica (Mexico and northern Central America) where indigenous groups, including Aztec, Maya and Toltec, had specific times when they commemorated their loved ones who had passed away. Certain months were dedicated to remembering the departed, based on whether the deceased was an adult or a child.
The ofrenda is often the most recognized symbol of Día de los Muertos. This temporary altar is a way for families to honor their loved ones and provide them what they need on their journey. They place down pictures of the deceased, along with items that belonged to them and objects that serve as a reminder of their lives.
Every ofrenda also includes the four elements: water, wind, earth and fire. Water is left in a pitcher so the spirits can quench their thirst. Papel picado, or traditional paper banners, represent the wind. Earth is represented by food, especially bread. Candles are often left in the form of a cross to represent the cardinal directions, so the spirits can find their way.
Food Traditionally Eaten during Halloween
Huesos de Santo – these are marzipan dough tubes that resemble bones filled with yema (sweetened egg yolk)
Buñelos de Viento – are light, fluffy and sweet, you cant pass up the opportunity to sample these.
Chestnuts (Castañas) These are on sale during Halloween by street vendors.