This past Tuesday we celebrated Halloween at school. I wasn't sure what to expect celebrating in another country, especially Spain. I was informed that in this country Halloween focuses on the haunted and scary aspects of the holiday, a lot more than in the U.S. When planning for the activities at school we were informed that most of the students will dress scary instead of picking a costume that fits into pop culture. The teachers explained that this is more appropriate for Carnival which is celebrated in late February.
In the beginning of October, all school staff had a meeting and decided to dedicate half the school day on Halloween for activities for the students. Some of the activities would include Crafting, Scary Stories, Halloween History, Trick Or Treating, and Face Painting. We also decided that the students would be allowed to dress up as well as all staff. The week before that Tuesday everyone in the school was busy decorating the halls for All Hallows' Eve, and by Monday you could feel the excitement in the halls.
Another auxiliary and myself decided that we were going to paint our faces scary since we were in charge of the face painting activity. This would be the first time I would look "haunted" for Halloween so I was excited.
The morning of, we got ready together and barely made the bus since we spent a lot of time making sure we did a good job with our costume makeup. We ran through the metro tunnels of Madrid and many people were staring at us not sure what was the hurry and what we were doing. Halloween is a fairly new concept and celebration in Spain, so older generations don't understand. When we got to school we quickly met with the other auxiliaries to take a picture before the chaos began.
The four of us were assigned different grades for the hour so all students could experience the different activities. The teachers decided to rotate between the classrooms to make it less chaotic.
The first classes I went to were 6th grade. In class the teacher went over some crafts and songs, while I was helping to paint faces. Once the teacher was done with her part, I decided to share some American culture with some Youtube videos. Most of the kids really like Michael Jackson so I played the "Thriller" video.
Next, I went to fourth grade where I knew I would have to paint 60 student's faces in a short amount of time. I was expecting to paint a pumpkin or a spider, but all the students wanted to look scary. I thought this was an interesting observation compared to American children. The fourth grade teacher Jose put on a scary movie while I started. By popular demand all the students wanted to watch Chucky, but they had to settle for Corpse Bride by Tim Burton. I know when I was in the fourth grade I would have been terrified to watch Chucky so this made me laugh that they were all brave enough to want to watch a scarier film. I spend most of my time with fourth grade so I've gotten to know these students very well, and because of that I am more comfortable with laughing and joking around with them. Fourth is a very good age because they are older but not old enough to feel too cool to get to know you.
After the breakfast break with the other teachers I went to my last scheduled classes which were fifth graders. Again, everyone wanted to be painted scary with blood, stitches, and scars. By the end of the day I was really getting into painting the kids with costume makeup, which was not my expectation. Some of the painting was getting very elaborate and I was enjoying it a lot. This was the first time I felt I was truly getting into the spirit of Halloween; a day for the dead. Celebrating in Spain has affected
my views of Halloween, and I believe that moving forward I will try and celebrate the holiday with a little more fright.
After the half day was done and all kids were heading to lunch, the teachers met on the playground and were all relieved our planning went smoothly. It had paid off and all the students had a good time. We were also excited because November 1st is a holiday in Spain so we had the next day off, and everyone was ready to go out in the city center that night.
Overall, it was a really good experience getting to celebrate the holiday in a school environment again. Since this day was such a success, it is making me look forward to the upcoming holidays toward the end of the year. I hope to think of creative ways to incorporate American culture of the holidays, and to help the students gain a new perspective.