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  • Halloween in Spain

    Halloween in Spain image

     

    Halloween in Spain particularly in the north of Spain is nothing like the commercialised spectacle that takes place in America.  

    In fact it is more of a traditional style festival closely related to the religious holiday of All Saints Day, honouring the dead and celebrating the perpetuation of life.  Halloween in Spain is a three-day celebration starting on October 31st with Dia de las Brujas (Day of the Witches), followed on the 1st November with Dia de Todos los Santos (All Saints Day) and then finishing on the 2nd November with Dia de los Muertos (Day of the Dead).

    Halloween in Spain Pumpkin

    Halloween is widely celebrated in the north, more than any other area of Spain.  Here the celtic tradition of halloween still has an influence to this day.  In Galicia, which is known for it rich folklore and ghostly legends, on the 31st October they celebrate Noite dos Calacús (Night of the Pumpkins).  Festivities on this night include carving pumpkins, throwing a costume party or even lighting a bonfire.  In some places kids will also go trick-or-treating but this isn't as popular.

    Halloween in Spain QueimadaA special tradition for Halloween in Galicia is the Quemada, a punch drink unique to the area.  The punch is made from the Galician spirit aguardiente, unground coffee beans, sugar, and lemon rind or orange peels.  Traditionally, the quemada is prepared within a pumpkin and consumed after reciting a spell known as the esconxuro.  Many people now though prepare this drink in a specially designed clay pot that comes with cups to drink from.  The tradition of the preparation ritual is to ward off the bad spirits that lie in wait for men and women to try to curse them.  The drink is set alight to burn slowly as more brandy is added.  The spell is then recited whilst holding up a ladle of the burning liquid and then pouring it slowly back into the container as many times as it takes for the full spell to be completed.

    For Dia de Todos los Santos (All Saints Day) which is celebrated on the 1st November the tradition in northern Spain is that locals would prepare pastries called Huesos de Santo (Bones of the Holy).  On this day families will take these treats with them when they visit their love ones graves.

    Halloween in Spain - Esconxuro Spell

    Halloween in Spain - Esconxuro Spell

    Halloween in Spain - Santa Compaña

    Halloween in Spain Santa CompanaGalicia is known for its ghostly folklore.  Once such mystical belief is that of Santa Compaña, the procession of the dead.  This particular procession is led by a local living person who will be carrying a cross or a cauldron of holy water or both and is followed by the souls of several of the dead holding lit candles.  These souls can only be seen, it is said by some.  Those who were wrongly anointed with the Oil of the Dead instead of holy water at their baptism or those with the ability to see spirits.  The scent of melting wax however can be easily smelt on the night breeze as the procession passes, warning of its presence.

    The living leader of the procession is compelled by a mysterious curse to go out and lead this procession but will have no recollection of this the next day.  The procession will go from midnight to daybreak when the leader will return to their bed.  With no memory of what they have done the next morning they do however feel very tired as though they got no sleep.  The only way to be freed of the curse is if the leader comes across another person during their nightly procession who they can give the cross or cauldron too along with the curse.  If the curse is not passed onto another person within weeks the leader will become pale, sickly and thin with death the end result and will see the curse pass onto another local unknowingly.

    It is possible though should you come across the Santa Compaña that you can avoid getting the curse by drawing a circle around them or lie flat on the ground whilst the procession passes.  Other ways to avoid the curse is to tie a black cat in the middle of the processions path and run away.  Alternatively if you have nothing to draw a circle with or no black cat to hand you can make hand symbols to ward off the Santa Compaña.  With both hands you can give the horn gesture by keeping up your index and little finger whilst folding down your other fingers.  The other hand gesture you can make is the Fig sign, by closing your fist and putting your thumb between your index and middle finger.  Like the Banshee in Ireland the purpose of the Santa Compaña is to visit the homes of those who have a death due.

    Halloween in Spain - San Sebastian Horror & Fantasy Film Festival

    A more lighted hearted take on the festivities of Halloween is the San Sebastian Horror & Fantasy Film Festival.  This festival has been running from 1990 and as the name suggests this is no ordinary film festival.  It an enormous horror and fantasy fiesta that is  packed with performances, music, street shows and exhibitions.  Find out more on their website: http://www.sansebastianhorrorfestival.eus/2016/index.php?lang=en

    1 https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Queimada_(drink)

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