LIKE other religious holidays including Christmas and Easter, Halloween has become more commercialised in Spain over the years and has moved away from its religious origins.
While 20 years ago trick-or-treaters were a rare occurrence, stores these days are packed with themed sweets and creepy costumes from September onwards.
Another reason Halloween has become more popular is that the next day, typically known as All Saints’ Day, is a national holiday. Children and adults now take advantage of partying the night away in spooky costumes without worrying about going to work or school the next morning.
Many Spanish cities still hold their own unique celebrations around this time, however, which keep the holiday separate from the profit-oriented notion of Halloween made popular by the US.
One of the best places to visit at this time of the year is Cadiz. Although not actually linked to Halloween, on October 31 they celebrate the ‘Fiesta de Tosantos’. Locals create over-the-top market stall displays depicting all the latest political and social scandals and hold concerts and street performances across the city.
A more sinister event is celebrated in the small Catalan village of Sant Feliu Sasserra. During the two-day ‘Witch Festival,’ residents pay tribute to the 23 women accused of witchcraft during the Spanish Inquisition and sentenced to death.
Meanwhile in the rest of Cataluña, locals celebrate ‘La Castanyada,’ putting on various events and market stalls, selling chestnuts, sweet wine and traditional Catalan ‘panellet’ cakes.
In Castile and León, people commemorate the holiday by baking traditional pastries called ‘Huesos de Santo’ which they bring to the graves of loved ones.
These days, Halloween is now closely associated with the Mexican holiday ‘Dia de los Muertos’ (Day of the Dead) on November 1. While Spain has traditionally celebrated ‘Dia de los Santos’ (All Saints’ Day) on this day, the increased popularity of the Mexican festival means that people are beginning to combine traditions from the two.
It is becoming more common to see people perform traditional ‘Day of the Dead’ rituals such as decorating graves with sugar skulls and gifts.