Halloween in Spain
People wonder, do they have Halloween in Spain? Yes, they do. And it’s neat to see how it’s being adopted here. There are those who don’t like that there’s now Halloween in Spain and those who do. We think it’s more the Spaniards who like it and can see that they’re eager to enjoy it for themselves.
Halloween in Spain is Catching on Quick
I remember in October of 2012 visiting my mother in Higuera la Real, Extremadura. Her village is very, very small so I was surprised to see that a lot of children dressed up and went all out for Halloween. Even many parents took part. They wore elaborate costumes and make-up and went around town trick-or-treating.
Now I don’t know how much candy these kids really lucked out on…after all, this tiny country village has a much older population as well. The older generations, those in their 60’s and older, tend to not care Halloween. Their reasons vary from religious reasons to personal indifference.
Halloween in Spain from an Insider’s View
Today, years later, I’m living in Denia, Spain with my boyfriend and wondered about what Halloween would be like here. At first we were going to dress up, but didn’t feel up for it this year. So we walked around the town center to just take in what was going on. It also turns out that Tuesday, November 1st, is a national holiday here in Spain. Businesses tend to be closed that day. Since this year it’s on a Tuesday, it seems that many are closed on Monday October 31st as well and many people travel someone for the long weekend. Denia was no exception and we noticed that the town has a good amount of visitors this weekend.
We noticed that Halloween is in full swing here in Denia. It was mainly families who were celebrating. Children, who seem to be adored in Spanish culture to the point of seeming spoiled, were all decked out in great costumes and face paint. In the beautiful marble plaza next to the Plaza de Ayuntamiento (or town hall), there was even a dance floor and music for the kids. After the kids, the next biggest group to dress up were the parents. And then there were of course teens.
Denia came up with a great idea, to turn the pedestrian walk-way tunnel under the castle, into a ‘tunnel of terror’ walk for the night of Halloween. It passes through the large hill that is right in the center of town. During the days, it serves as a great way to travel by foot or bike directly from one side of town to the other, without having to circle around the Denia Castle.
We’ve heard from local neighbors, that during the Spanish Civil War, the people of the town would take shelter in this tunnel when the town was being attacked. Walking through it, you can see the rock and earth of the hill’s center all along the sides and arching up overhead in a ceiling of stone. I’ve even noticed that there are some tree roots you can see growing down into the tunnel from the ground above. What a great place to turn into a Halloween experience.
Halloween in Spain and Spanish Tradition
Traditionally for Spain, this time is about the holiday of All Saints’ Day (Dia de Todos los Santos), which is November 1st. The holiday comes from the Catholic Church and celebrates Christian Saints, especially those who do not have a designated feast or holiday at other times of the year.
It was really interesting to us that we had the opportunity to attend a special mass last night, on Halloween night, here in Denia. We were invited by our friend and neighbor Abel to attend this mass in memory of his mother’s passing six years ago. It was a shorter mass, half an hour long, where they say the names of those being remembered, three times. The service was held in the Iglesia de San Antonio de Padua. It was our first time in the church, although we had enjoyed the cafes in its charming square before. The interior was beautiful and traditional; not as gilded and elaborate as larger cathedrals, which we really liked. The main cross at the altar was particularly unique and creative. It was just the cross with colorful paintings of figures on it; a more modern design than we see in most small Catholic churches.
Being intermediate with Spanish, I could understand most of the short message that the priest gave. I know at some point he referenced ‘Halloween’ as the American tradition or festival. But I am honestly not sure what stance he was taking on it. We are not the religious types, so we respected and enjoyed the experience as a cultural one.
Why Halloween in Spain
Regarding even the religious holidays here in Spain, I’ve read religion stats, and heard from people, that 20 -22% of Spaniards claim to not believe in God or a religion. Of the 70 – 75% who identify themselves as Catholic Christians, 61% of them hardly ever attend mass, and the percentages of those who go a few times a year or are more involved, are drastically even smaller. This does seem to match up with what we see of our Spaniard friends and community here – if they do affiliate themselves with religion, it does not mean they associate that with practices or involvement. Usually, here in Spain religion is about tradition for many people.
We think Halloween is being welcomed by most Spaniards because they love progress and new things. Be it American traditions and holidays, styles and products, they want to be modern and advanced. But more than anything, Spaniards love to have fun and enjoy life, even in the simplest of ways. We love that about this culture. There’s a richness to the way and rhythm of life here that is relaxing and satiating. So when parents see how adorable their kids are in creative costumes and they see the fun they can have with a new tradition, you bet they’re going to be right there alongside them, dressing up and ‘trick-or-treating’…with, of course, that fantastic Spanish gusto and flair.
What’s your take on Halloween in Spain?
Or Halloween in other countries? Comment below!
Written by Amalia Maloney Del Riego
Writer & Film Co-Producer
I love traveling and tend to be a slow-traveler, taking time to enjoy places and especially the local culture. ‘Eating and drinking’ my way around a new place and meeting the people, is how I love to travel. Enjoy my other writings and published poetry on my site AmaliaVida.com.