Over the last few years, Halloween in the UK has become more and more American, so we were curious to see how Spain celebrated it when we first moved here.
In Spain, October 31st is known as ‘Día de las Brujas’ (Day of the Witches), November 1st as ‘Día de Todos los Santos’ (All Saints Day) and November 2nd as ‘Día de los Muertos/Difuntos’ (Day of the Dead/All Souls Day). … In Spain, most celebrations happen on November 1st which has been made a national holiday (known as a red day here).
On All Saints Day in Spain, some families take the opportunity to visit the cemeteries where their ancestors and loved ones are buried. As a family, they then clean the graves, leave flowers, light candles and take time to remember their dearly departed.
This week in the village there has been face painting and a movie for the children, and on the 31st October the children usually dress up and go out collecting sweets (not called trick or treating here). In larger towns and cities there will be parades with music and fireworks – remembering the dead doesn’t have to be a miserable affair!
The cemetery has had a lick of paint and a good tidy up before All Souls over the last few weeks ready for people to visit the graves of their loved ones.
Most villages have their own cemetery, usually close to the undertakers (tanatorio), which in turn is usually close to the church! It made me laugh when we saw this as it looks very efficient! There is a law in Spain that a body has to be cremated or embalmed within 48 hours of dying, so funerals happen really quickly here, which I think is a good thing.
We have noticed more Halloween type things in the shops recently, but not nearly as much as in the UK.
Of course, living outside of the village in the campo as we do, we won’t get any children knocking on the door for sweets, but we might pop into the village for an hour on Sunday evening to join in a little!
The big difference here is the focus is all on remembering loved ones rather than dressing up for sweets and treats, which keeps it closer to the pagan festival of Samhain where All Souls Day originated from many years ago. We still celebrate Samhain, and we place a simple meal outside for any passing souls, which is the traditional way to celebrate.
However you celebrate Halloween / All Saints and All Souls, have a wonderful weekend!