Halloween in Spain

halloween-in-spain-jack-o-lanterns.jpgDon’t anyone tell me that Halloween doesn’t exist in Spain. IT DOES! And the wave of popularity becomes higher and higher with every passing year – world economic crisis or not. A recent visit to Carrefour Supermarket/Store proved that Spain is very aware of the “holiday”. There, they were selling artificial Jack-O-Lanterns with scary faces, Halloween makeup, costumes, loads of accessories and even some candy (although I didn’t notice any candy corn).

Nearly every day for the past week there have been daily reports on morning news programs about the upcoming “American Holiday” – as it’s often described although it’s also actively observed in Britain too. Haunted houses, shops carrying popular costumes, the release of scary movies around the date, and of course the holiday decorations are talked about daily. I’ve even seen a number of elementary school classes discussing how they’re going to dress up on Halloween.

An elementary school teacher friend of mine and I spent hours carving Jack-O-Lanterns for the students, bought decorations for the classroom, and the teacher plans Halloween stories, songs, and projects for the kids – but not TOO scary, mind you.

The older “kids”, teens, 20 and 30-somethings, have planned dress-up parties this weekend and no-doubt they’ll have fun dressing-up as toreros, witches, ghosts, Frankenstein’s monster, and undoubtedly LOTS of Draculas.

Trick-or-Treat doesn’t exist here, which is logical to me, as so few people observe this part of the Halloween tradition – and even fewer are aware of it. Imagine the looks neighbors would give the solitary toddler dressed up as Winnie The Pooh, going door to door with his Halloween bag and asking for candy. I’m sure the neighbors might have a few cough drops lying around.

A recent article stated the following:

Spanish Catholic leaders lash out at Halloween
The growing popularity of Halloween is alarming Roman Catholic leaders who blame parents for encouraging children to celebrate death over life. There is a growing “risk” that due to commercial interests “pagan” customs which have been “imported” to Spain will place Christian customs like devotion to saints and praying for the dead. Hollywood is blamed for the spread of Halloween.

Many people are aware that in Mexico they celebrate “Día de los Muertos” (“Day of the Dead”) on November 2nd and many believe this is where North America took and modified this ritual to Halloween (note: yes, I’m aware that Mexico is part of North America but I refer to North America north of the Mexican border), combining it with the celebration of the autumnal equinox the Irish immigrants celebrated there.

(Quoted from JackOLanterns.net)

In Spain November 1 has become a public holiday. On All Saints’ Day (“Dia de Todos los Santos”) Catholics attend church services in honor of the saints, the martyrs and those who have died for the Catholic faith. People may also visit their family’s graves to beautify them with wreaths and small lanterns. Sometimes a mass is said at the grave site and the grave sprinkled with holy water.

On November 2 or All Souls’ Day, Catholics attend a special Requiem masses, where they remember those who may be close to them that have died. Prayers for the dead are said and votive candles are lit to honor their memory.

In the past 10-15 years in Spain, however, this observance has waned as younger generations become less and less religious – or just want to avoid the traffic. For decades, particularly under the Franco regime, this custom was fervently exercised.

Personally, I’ll be “observing” Halloween in my annual manner by watching the 1978 John Carpenter movie “HALLOWEEN” starring Jamie Lee Curtis, with the lights down, a candle lit, and popcorn at the ready.

 
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