Halloween in Spain

A question we get a lot is: does Spain celebrate Halloween? Many countries have adopted it (including the USA. We didn’t start it, you know), other countries purposely avoid it because it’s too “American.”

If you’re wondering it started in the UK and Ireland as far back as the 16th century. So it’s inherently European.

Anyway, the short answer is: yes, and they’re trying hard to make it bigger. The long answer is, only some age groups and it’s complicated.

In the weeks leading up to Halloween there were signs. All the chinos (dollar stores) started filling up with decorations, masks, and kids costumes. Posters were put up announcing a city “Casa Del Terror” (Haunted House) and a medieval market.

The grocery stores had a very tiny section of Halloween candy next to the huge Christmas section. Yes Christmas things are already out. They don’t have Thanksgiving to trigger “It is now socially acceptable to be Christmassy.”

Also the week before Halloween the grocery store had these cute little sugar pumpkins (not the monster carvers we have in the US). They had put black tape over it to make it look Halloweeny.

I had seen tons and tons of Halloween printouts for the kids in the copying room. Loads of teachers (not just English teachers) were making skeleton, witch, brew/potions, jack o lanterns, and costume printouts for coloring/projects. So I figured I could get away with wearing a costume. Plus I figure “I’m supposed to be a cultural ambassador so whatever.” I brought a Harry Potter costume from the US. Just a t-shirt with a clip on tie and glasses.

The kids were enamored by it but didn’t know at all what it was. Most thought I was a student (it looks similar to the Catholic school uniforms here) and alarmingly, train conductor. “Teacher! Choo choo!” Not at all, Maria. Not at all. What train conductor wears a clip on tie and huge glasses?

A few die-hard Harry Potter fans (older kids) got it but for the most part it was “And what are you supposed to be little girl?”

I was the only teacher dressed up, though. I chose not to draw a scar on my forehead since the principal and his goonies were already giving me dirty/confused enough looks. Fortunately I wasn’t the only one dressed up. All the 1st and 2nd graders were dressed to the nines. They looked great.

Quite a few were Dia de los Muertos masks. We’ve really gone full circle with Spain bringing Catholisism to Mexico and adapting their local death celebrations to be religious. Now Dia de los Muertos is bigger here. A couple girls had some amazing ammmaaazzzziinnngggg face paint done by moms (or dads) to look exactly like the Dia de los Muertos masks. Their hair was all up in skulls or bows, too. There were quite a lot of witches. The boys were all devils, draculas or skeletons. One boy was the perfect Joker and was the only boy who managed not to smear his facepaint everywhere. He’s pictured in the back since I figure his face paint protects his anonymity.

The girl in the pink tutu was a really awesome doll. She had paint to make it look like her jaw was on a hinge like a dolls and she had huge doll eyes painted over it. Her friend had a past princess costume that was ripped up to be a zombie princess (hell yeah!). Her mom/dad had done her hair to look matted and zombie like. A lot, and I mean a lot of effort was put into these. Only one kid had a homemade costume on, he was a cute little clown and had a 3 piece green suit with ric rac sewn all over it. His facepaint combined with his naturally bulbous nose and big child eyes made him look adorable.

One girl was dressed as what I would consider inappropriate, but more power to her (or her parents). For one it was a character from the R rated (and generally terrible) movie Suicide Squad. Harley Quinn is a sexually-violent-psychotic character who wears booty shorts, a crop top and has red and blue hair. This girl was dressed exactly like that with the booty shorts and crop top. Except she’s 7.

In the back were the Jack o Lanterns hanging up. They do carve here but they carve watermelons, not pumpkins. Also they always carve slits on the side to hang it up (we carve the lid to go back on, but here they carve string to carry/hang it). There were live candles in it (of course there were. It’s Spain!).

Also check out the cool Spongebob and Patrick artwork.

My favorite thing that never would’ve been acceptable in the US was the huge pile of weapons the kids had. These had been collected and stored in the coat room (yes some classrooms have coat rooms) after too many kids were tripping over them.

All these violent weapons then the little light-up wand discarded at the bottom.

As for our Halloween we watched Stranger Things on Netflix. I don’t have a stomach for horror at all but I really enjoyed it and would recommend it to anyone for the story. Also we tried a new recipe for Caramel Apple Sangria that we both really enjoyed.

White wine, Apple Cider (homemade, can’t buy that in Spain) and caramel vodka. Adjust the ratios to your taste or follow an actual human recipe.

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