Spanish Halloween traditions
Celebrating Halloween in Spain has a religious connotation in most of the country. Not only is Halloween celebrated on October 31, but also November 1, All Saints’ Day, and November 2, Day of the Dead, are usually holidays throughout the country. Thus, in Spain there are different ways to spend the November holidays depending on the region in which you are.
If you are in the Valencian Community, one of the most requested destinations to spend those vacation days is the Cocentaina Fair (“Fira de Tot Sants”). It’s one of the oldest fairs in Spain and, in fact, it was declared of International Tourist Interest because it receives more than 800,000 people in the four days that the fair lasts. The event is divided into several zones: the most traditional part dedicated to agriculture in the central square, an Arab souk (market), a Christian market, animal zones and attractions for children. It’s an ideal destination to go with the family.
Fira de Tot Sants in Cocentaina
Tosantos of Cádiz
Another perfect city to spend family vacations in is Cádiz. In there, “Los Tosantos de Cádiz” is celebrated, in which they celebrate a food carnival in which, instead of dressing up people, the food is dressed up. Around these dates it is very common to see chickens in suits, squid dressed as Nazarenes, or fish celebrating their wedding dressed in white. This show with a more humorous touch can be found in the Central Market of Cádiz or in the Virgen del Rosario Market, where contests are organized every year and each stall is decorated with a different theme.
Witches’ Fair in Barcelona
For a slightly spookier spectacle, head to the Catalan town of Sant Feliu Sasserra. A fair known as Fira de les Bruixes (Witches’ Fair) is held there. This festival begins with a parade of ghosts on the night of October 31 in the Plaza de la Iglesia and on November 1 it’s common to see dancers, street artists and stalls in the city.
The objective of this fair is to remember all those women who during the XVII-XVIII centuries were accused of witchcraft in Catalonia. Today, as a tradition, that massacre and persecution is recreated in the council theater at night, when a witch is taken down from the bell tower. The town also has a small Witch Museum, crafts and tarot card readings during the celebration of All Saints’ Day.
Trasmoz and the celebration of La Luz de las Ánimas
If we go to Zaragoza, we have to stop at the town of Trasmoz. Every October 31 this town returns to the 13th century, and it’s because the legends that the writer Gustavo Adolfo Bécquer spread in the story of “La tía Casca” speak of this Zaragoza town, the only excommunicated from Spain, as a cursed town. Upon being excommunicated, it is said that he attracted spirits and witches who convened in his castle.
Currently those legends are still alive with the celebration of La luz de las Ánimas. The town returns to its origins and invites its attendees to spend a terrifying day. In the morning, the children go out to pick pumpkins; later, there is a procession of witches from the church to the cemetery, as well as dances, bonfires and street parades throughout the town.
The city of Trasmoz (Zaragoza)
Night of the Pumpkins of Galicia
In northern Spain, where Celtic traditions still prevail, Halloween is celebrated with more enthusiasm than in the rest of the country. In Galicia, the night of October 31st is known as Noite dos Calacús (Night of the Pumpkins) and is celebrated with related activities like pumpkin carving, costume parties, bonfires, rituals, and sometimes even trick-or-treating.
Another mystical belief is that of Santa Compaña, the procession of the dead. This particular procession is led by a cursed local person who carries a cross or a cauldron of holy water. Then, the souls of several of the dead holding lit candles follow. These souls can only be seen, it is said, by some. Similar to the Banshee in Ireland, the purpose of the Santa Compaña is to visit the homes of those who have a death due in the near future.
Noite dos Calacús in Galicia
- Samhain – 8 facts about Halloween’s Celtic origins
- How Halloween went from an Irish background to an American holiday
In addition to all these traditions, there are cities in Spain where Halloween is characterized by its costume parties or Trick or Treat activities for children. Depending on what you prefer to do, you can choose the tradition that you like the most. Did you know any of these traditions?