Hallowe’en is coming! But have you ever thought about how the day is marked or celebrated in other parts of the world? In Spain, Hallowe'en is known as El Día de las Brujas (the Day of the Witches). 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. Let's find out more about this spooky season and how it is celebrated in different parts of Spain.
Starting in the northwest of Spain, the region of Galicia calls the night of the 31st of October Noite dos Calacús (Night of the Pumpkins). On this evening people carve pumpkins, have costume parties, bonfires, and sometimes trick-or-treating. A particular tradition of Halloween in Galicia is the quemada – a strong drink concocted from aguardiente, unground coffee, sugar and lemon rind or orange peels. The custom is to make the quemada in the pumpkin and drink it after reciting a spell, esconxuro. You should be aware that Noite dos Calacús and esconxuro are both regional words in the Galician language, gallego.
Moving further east, in the small village of Sant Feliu Sassera in Catalonia there is a witch festival at Hallowe’en! It honours the 23 women who were sentenced to death for being witches during the Inquisition. The festival is called Fira de las Bruixes in Catalan, or Feria de las Brujas in Spanish. On the night of Hallowe’en a parade goes through the village and on All Saints’ Day there are dancers and stalls selling food and crafts.
In the capital city Madrid, and in many other big cities, the clubs, bars and restaurants host Hallowe’en parties. Children may also be interested to know there is an event called Chocohalloween in the Moda shopping centre. What do you think you can get there? At this time of year Madrid also has a Semana Gótica de Madrid, Madrid Gothic Week.
In the southern city of Málaga, the Zombie March takes place on El Día de las Brujas in the heart of the old town. People dress as all sorts of scary characters such as witches, vampires and zombies and parade from the Plaza de la Constitución. There are also beautifully decorated cemeteries in the city of Málaga, where people visit, bring flowers and look after the graves of their relatives on El Día de Todos Los Santos.
In Barcelona, Catalonia (in Asturias and Galicia too) there is a Fair on El Día de Todos los Santos called La Castanyada. Here, visitors can take part in many events: music concerts and stalls filled with autumnal food, including the castanyes, chestnuts (in Catalan) which give the Fair its name, sweet potatoes, sweet wine and panellets, small Catalan cakes made from marzipan.
In Cádiz there is a festival known as Fiesta de Tosantos or Fiesta de los Mercados. There are concerts and street performers and decorated market stalls. The stall holders use their fruit and vegetables to make scenes and characters from topical news scandals. It is not strictly a Hallowe’en celebration, but it starts on the same day.
You'll also know that Spanish is spoken in many Latin American countries, and there there is a a further celebration on 2nd November. This is known as El Día de los Muertos, meaning "the day of the dead". On this day families get together and visit the graves of relatives who have died. They take food and drink with them to socialise with other visiting relatives. The day honours the dead, but also celebrates continuing life.
Hallowe’en - el Día de las Brujas (the day of the witches)
ghost - un fantasma
witch - una bruja
I am dressing up as… - me disfrazo de ...
a pumpkin - una calabaza
to carve a pumpkin - tallar una calabaza
a vampire - un vampiro / una vampiresa
a princess - una princesa
a skeleton - un esqueleto
a mummy (egyptian) - una momia
a monster - un monstruo
a bat - un murciélago
a spider - una araña
a spider’s web - una telaraña / una tela de araña
a black cat - un gato negro
a wizard - un mago
You try! Chilling Challenge!
Spanish is spoken in many places around the world, not only in Spain. Can you/your class find out more traditions that take place in other Spanish-speaking places? Is there a parade at your school? Is it a Día de las Brujas? If you decorate your classroom for Hallowe'en, maybe you could label those bats and beasties in Spanish!