Halloween is one of the most exciting celebrations in the world. It reunites family and friends, creating lasting memories for adults and children.
Even though the Americans’ way of celebrating Halloween is quite popular, there are many ways of celebrating it. In fact, in Catalonia, Halloween is celebrated differently and fascinatingly.
Many tourists that visit Barcelona at the end of October are surprised by how locals celebrate Halloween.
However, what is Halloween like in Barcelona? Does it involve costumes and children playing trick or treat?
In this article, we will review how Catalonians celebrate Halloween and how can ex-pats who are visiting the city or taking a Spanish course in Barcelona.
You can also study a language at Expanish; This will allow you to talk to the locals and learn more about the history of the place.
What is Precisely Halloween?
To understand how Catalonians celebrate Halloween, we will first discuss this event and where it comes from.
The word “Halloween” comes from “all hallow eve”. During this date, the dead saints and martyrs are remembered and reverenced. Clarifying the meaning of Halloween is key to understanding why in Barcelona this date is known as “All Saints’ Eve” in Barcelona.
It is believed that Halloween was celebrated in Scotland and Ireland, and immigrants took the tradition to North America, spreading it to the rest of the world. The celebration has Christian roots.
During the 12th century, Halloween was already a holy day and was celebrated by ringing church bells and walking the streets in black costumes.
Baking cakes was also a part of the celebration and is believed to be the beginning of the trick-or-treat tradition.
Later, the celebration included lanterns to parade the streets or candles in the houses to guide the souls back to their homes.
Later, Protestants banned Halloween-related celebrations, but the tradition continued in catholic territories, such as Scotland and Ireland.
Many believe that costumes come from Gaelic folk influences. The Gaelic festival called Samhain, a pagan celebration associated with the end of the harvest season, is believed to have influenced Halloween.
Immigration took Halloween from Europe to the United States, where this tradition grew and adopted new ways of celebration.
Halloween became a holiday in the United States thanks to Scottish and Ireland immigrants who at first kept the tradition within their community. Still, later it expanded to the rest of the states.
Even though the change from culture to culture, some Halloween symbols have become almost universal in western culture.
The famous carved pumpkin lantern, known as Jack-o’-lantern, is probably the more iconic element to represent Halloween. It was traditionally used to frighten evils on Halloween night.
Aside from the Jack-o’-lantern, the current costumes are inspired mainly by diverse influences. Witches, Frankenstein, the mummy, or skulls are symbols from literature and films.
During Halloween, children usually use costumes and ring bells in the neighborhood, asking for candy using the question, “Trick or treat?”
This activity, as we mentioned before, comes from different past practices, even though they did not involve children then.
Nowadays, trick or treating is a fun activity that almost every child in the United States and many other countries enjoy every October 31st night.
Halloween in Barcelona
Barcelona, like most Spanish cultures, has Christian roots, and All Saints Eve has been celebrated for a long time.
Unlike Americans, Halloween in Barcelona lasts for three days. It starts on October 31st and lasts until November 2nd.
During those three days, Catalonian families gathered to celebrate the life of their loved ones who had already died. During the celebrations, the souls of the dead are believed to return to their homes and visit their families.
Costumes are always used, and the trick and treat (or “truco o trato”) tradition is just like as we know it from the Americans.
However, in Catalonia, the All-Saints Eve is not only about costumes and trick-or-treat practices for children. Over there, families also celebrate the Castanyada.
The Castanyada typically happens on November 1rst and consists of a family gathering in which chestnuts are toasted and eaten.
For each chestnut eaten during the Castanyada, a soul is released from purgatory, so the ceremony is quite solemn.
During All Saints Eve Catalonian, they visit their loved ones at the cemetery. Usually, they bring flowers and candles to the graves of their dead and celebrate their lives.
Furthermore, nowadays, Barcelona also celebrates Halloween by creating the altar route. This is a Mexican tradition that Catalonians have adopted. It makes altars called “Living memories” in different parts of the city.
Each altar is dedicated to venerating a cause relevant to the community. During the All-Saints Eve celebrations, the altars can be toured by following a map created on each occasion.
Night Halloween Celebration
Aside from Catalonians’ aforementioned celebrations and customs, All Saints Eve is also an occasion for partying in Barcelona.
Many nightclubs in the city host thematic celebrations during Halloween days, which probably include using costumes and Halloween-like decorations at bars and nightclubs.
The Nocturna Festival is one of Barcelona’s most popular Halloween-related events. It started in 2001 in the mythic Salamandra 2 (L’Hospitalet de Llobregat) and has continued until today.
It is a heavy metal music festival that includes live music, burlesque shows, and many other activities related to Halloween aesthetics and spirit.
To conclude, Halloween is an inspiring celebration almost everywhere. It involves paying respect to the dead and celebrating their lives by gathering, wearing costumes, and partying.
In Barcelona, Halloween or All-Saints Eve has its unique touch in Barcelona, with toasted chestnuts that smell invading the city streets and families gathering to reconnect with their dead loved ones.
This, combined with nightclubs and bars offering the best parties, makes the perfect combination for a grand Halloween celebration.