You hear a knock on the door and open it find several children covered with all-too-convincing zombie makeup staring back at you. “Truco-o-Trato!” they shout. Don’t be alarmed, just give them candy (or money) and they will gladly go away. If you can’t guess, “Truco-o-Trato” means Trick-or-treat, which is something all the kids do here.
Research Vs. Observation
In my prior research, I read that Halloween is not a big deal in Spain. For the most part, this statement is true. However, it is not the whole story.
Here are some of my basic observations about Halloween in Spain currently:
- Halloween is no-where near as commercial in Spain as in the U.S.
- People barely decorate for Halloween, if at all.
- Some people are a bit anti-Halloween. They don’t feel that the holiday has much meaning to their culture.
- Halloween is rapidly becoming more popular here.
- Almost every child in my town dresses up and trick-or-treats.
- Many people here have recently (as in the last couple of years) started carving pumpkins.
The Pumpkin Carving Contest
So, that being said: how was my Halloween? Well, it was a lot of fun. My host teacher began hosting a pumpkin carving contest last year for the kids and I was amazed at the creativity with which a lot of kids decorated or carved their pumpkins. Pumpkins weren’t just carved, they were painted, given props, and set on backdrops. As you can see in my photos, one pumpkin came in as Cinderella’s carriage, another as the grouch, and another simply dripping with glued on gummy candies. So, Halloween might not be a big deal here, but that doesn’t mean the kids miss an opportunity to be elaborately creative. I even had fun helping my host family’s youngest daughter carve her pumpkin the night before the competition.
Besides pumpkin carving, I also went Trick-or-Treating with my youngest Spanish sister and her friends while painted as a skeleton. Navaleno is so small and safe that parents rarely accompany their older kids trick-or-treating. I didn’t know this simple fact when I offered to go with them and; consequently, I felt somewhat funny running from door-to-door while friends, family, and my student’s parents gave us candy. However, it was a nice night and I rarely complain about an opportunity to be active and outside. Afterwards, I joined my host parents and their friends in a local bar and had a lot of fun just getting to know them and trying some new foods.
Overall, while Halloween is more understated here than in the U.S, I still had a great night and learned a bit more about intercultural influences. What I mean to say is: if you also celebrate Halloween and find yourself in Spain at the end of October, it doesn’t mean you have to give up this holiday. If anything, it’s just another excuse to throw a party for your students (I had mine wrap each-other up as mummies, listen to Halloween music, and compete to answer Halloween questions), and to have some fun learning how the locals celebrate. So, enjoy and Truco-o-trato on!