Halloween is one of the oldest and the most popular celebrations observed by people all over the world. However, the customs and traditions of celebrating the festival differ from place to place. Every country has its own unique pattern of observing the festival. In spite of all the differences, the basic aim behind all these varied customs remains the same for one and all and that is to honor the dead and the deceased. It is said that on this day, the gap between the living and the dead is dissolved and the dead becomes dangerous to the living, by causing problems like sickness or damaged crops. Through Halloween, the dead are appeased, honored and remembered.
In Spain, Halloween is a three-day celebration, starting from 31st October every year. The first day is referred to as Halloween or Dia de las Brujas (Day of the Witches). This is also called Samhain or Noite dos Calacús (Night of the Pumpkins) in the north-west region of Galicia. This is followed by the celebration of ‘All Saints Day’ (Dia de Todos los Santos) on the 1st of November. Finally, on 2nd November, the natives observe the customs and rituals of All Souls’ Day (Día de Los Muertos). The three day celebration is together referred to as “El Dia de los Muertos” and is widely observed by the natives of Spain, Latin America and also by the Latinos residing in different zones of United States and Canada.
For Spanish people, Halloween is not only about honoring the dead, but also a celebration of the continuity of life. There is a strong influence of Halloween in the northern part of the country, where the festival is celebrated with much pomp and glory. This impact is due to the migration of Celtic-speaking inhabitants, who arrived thousands of years ago and mixed with the indigenous Iberians residing in these parts. Initially, the festival was celebrated on the ninth month of the Aztec Solar Calendar (the first part of April month) and lasted for a whole month. This date was later shifted, in order to make the celebrations more Christian. The common activities that are seen during Halloween in Spain are lighting bonfires, carving pumpkins, visiting cemeteries, organizing parties and get-togethers and so on.
In many places, costume parties are held with amusing and exciting themes, like scary animal theme and cauldron theme. Some people even go to the extent of decorating their house to resemble a scary set-up, like a grave-yard or a witch house. One custom that is peculiar only to this region is the consumption of a local drink made of herbs, called quemadas. The natives consider this to be the drink of their Celtic ancestors. The drink is infused with herbs and set aflame. This signifies the burning of bad luck and clearing the negative energies that dwell among the living during this time of the year. Apart from this, some villages even organize parades, where people dress in ghoulish costumes like skeletons & witches and dance in remembrance of their dead relatives. Amidst feasts, parties and gala time, the people in Spain celebrate Halloween.