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Saturday, March 6, 2021

Cartas de Granada: A Spanish Halloween

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Mary Elizabeth Snyder
ME Snyder teaches Middle School Spanish at Tower Hill School in Wilmington. She is a 2011 UD graduate who taught English for a year in Grenada, Spain.

Even though Halloween is over and everyone is looking forward to Thanksgiving (in the States, not here obviously), I wanted to share my unique experience of a Spanish Halloween. When I arrived, I was under the impression that Halloween was not a popular holiday here, maybe a few people here and there dressed up, and that the students wouldn’t know that much about it. But I found that the students really know their monster facts and their Halloween history even if they don’t know what candy corn is.

 

Halloween is relatively new here, though, and hasn’t developed into the holiday it is in the States. For instance, costumes here are not the money-maker they are in America. For those who do dress up, a scary costume is the only way to go. Witches, zombies, and vampires seemed to be the favorites, and when I asked my class if anyone would be dressing up as Lady Gaga, they seemed very confused as to why someone would ever do that. Since I’m trying my best to immerse myself in the Spanish culture, my friends and I decided to dress up as zombies, fake blood and all. It’s so much easier to dress up as a monster! You don’t have to spend nearly as much money or waste time trying desperately to come up with a clever costume that never really turns out as funny as you thought it would.

 

Another aspect of American Halloween that hasn’t quite caught on here is trick-or-treating. You don’t see droves of kids out on the street on Halloween or big bags of Halloween candy for sale at every grocery store. I’m not sure if it is only in Granada, but here everyone lives in an apartment complex. There are no houses.

 

So if the kids do go trick-or-treating they only go to the apartments in their complex, and maybe around to the local businesses (a few kids came into a bar. Definitely not something you’d see in America).

 

I love Halloween and I think it’s a fun holiday for children (and adults!) but unfortunately in Spain, it’s beginning to replace Spanish traditions. The big day here is Dia de los Santos, or All Saint’s Day. There’s no school and all the business are closed. Traditionally, families gather together and visit the graves of loved ones, then return home for a meal of sweet potatoes and pork stew. When one of the teachers at my school asked who in the class still goes to the cemetery with their families, only two students raised their hands, which was a little sad. Although Halloween is fun and exciting, it’s not a Spanish holiday, and unfortunately it’s slowly edging out Spanish tradition.

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