Spain’s Halloween Day
No pumpkins, costumes or “trick or treat”, but chestnuts, flowers and sweets – many sweets!!! Spain is also celebrating its Halloween. But not the way the Americans do it. Spain’s celebration is the Christian version of the original Celtic festival.
The original “All Hallows’ Eve” was a celebration of the harvest and the end of summer when Celts believed that spirits could visit our world. Christianity took this festival to celebrate with a feast to remember all saints in Christian history on 1st November, which is “All Hallows’ Day” – also known as “All Saints’ Day” (Día de Todos los Santos). And tomorrow Christians remember and pray for the departed souls of their relatives, marking this day (2 November) as “All Souls’ Day” (Día de los Difuntos).
1st November is a very important day for Catholics, and in Spain it is a public national holidays. But, how do Spanish people celebrate these days?
The main events of the day are the offering of Requiem Mass for the dead and visiting family graves. During the previous days, families go to the cemetery to clean the tombstones and bring fresh flowers, lots of flowers. Although, it is a day to remember the lost love ones, but it is also a celebration of life, and it is full of traditions.
Many parts of Spain celebrate “castañada”, a family reunion with roasted chestnuts (castañas) cooked over a bonfire. It is common to smudge the face with the remains of the bonfire, jump over it to bring luck and tell stories and sing folk songs. But not only castañas. They also eat many sweet on those days, such as huesos de santo (saint’s bones) or buñuelos de viento.
It is also a tradition to go to the theatre to see the play of “Don Juan Tenorio” by José Zorrilla. This is a special performance for the date, since the final act takes place the night of “All Saints’ Day” in a cemetery. The play is about death, redemption and salvation and some of the characters are spirits.
In many cities tribute is paid to Gustavo Adolfo Becquer and one of his famous legends of terror, “El Monte de las Ánimas” (The Spirits’ Mountain). Each year, giant puppets , skeletons, Templar knights and other spirits gather in the city streets with the only light coming from torches and candles. A stone bridge is their destination, where El Monte de las Ánimas starts and where there is a reading of this terrifying legend around a bonfire.
Today there are more traditions in Spain and Latin America. Do you know any?