How Spanish-Speaking Countries Celebrate Halloween
Is Halloween celebrated in Latin America?
And if so, what are the Spanish Halloween traditions?
Although it’s common to think that Halloween doesn’t exist in Spanish-speaking countries, the reality is that these nations have different ways to celebrate this holiday or, in some cases, they have their own traditions heavily influenced by Halloween.
Keep reading to learn all about Halloween in Spanish and discover the Halloween traditions celebrated in the Spanish-speaking countries.
You might like: Happy Halloween in Spanish: Vocabulary and Activities for Kids
Do Hispanic Countries Celebrate Halloween?
As you may have noticed, Hispanic culture is very different from the American one and it has its own diversity of unique traditions. However, in the last few decades, certain traditions have been influenced by the American Halloween, and something has been evolving in Spanish-speaking countries that we could call a kind of “Halloween in Spanish.”
As you would expect from the proud Spanish-speaking people, this Halloween Hispanic culture is a mix of their own traditions with the American Halloween traditions, creating in the process a very unique celebration.
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Halloween Traditions in Spanish-Speaking Countries
Now that we’ve established that Hispanic cultures also celebrate this famous witch holiday in October, let’s discover some of the most amazing Halloween traditions taking place in Spanish-speaking countries.
Trick or Treat in Mexico
Perhaps you won’t believe me, as we live in a “post-Coco” world, but when I was a child growing up in northern Mexico I used to carve pumpkins, go out at night for trick or treating, and wore Hispanic Halloween costumes (and not so Hispanic, too).
This was how I celebrated Día de los Muertos (Day of the Dead).
In fact, Día de los Muertos is a huge celebration in some parts of Mexico (mostly in the South), and wearing scary costumes and wishing happy Halloween to our friends is very common.
Over time, more and more people have started to celebrate both Día de los Muertos, which occurs on November 2nd each year, and Halloween, which—as you know—happens on October 31st. In a way, Halloween is seen as a fun date, while Día de los Muertos is a more serious celebration rooted in Mexican culture.
You might like: 13 Ways Halloween is Different from Day of the Dead
Tintilillo in Colombia
In the coastal Colombian city of Cartagena de Indias, a very interesting tradition takes place on November 1st. Known as Tintilillo or Ángeles somos which means “Angels we are,” this celebration surprisingly shares some similarities with Halloween.
For instance, it involves children going door to door singing and asking for food from their neighbors. It also involves the afterlife, although in quite a different way.
What Colombian kids ask for are the ingredients to prepare the traditional sancocho which is made of yucca, corn, potatoes, plantains, and chicken. And Colombian children don’t say “trick or treat,” but a traditional song specific to this Day of Angels:
Ángeles somos del cielo venimos,
pidiendo limosnas pá nosotros mismos,
tintilillo tintilillo cinco pesos pá mi bolsillo,
no te late, no te late
que el bollo está en el escaparate,
no te rías, no te rías, que la mochila está vacía.
Angels we are, from heaven we come,
asking for alms for ourselves alone.
cricket crocket five bucks for my pocket.
you don’t like, you don’t like
seeing that bun in the shop window,
don’t laugh, don’t laugh, that the backpack is empty.
If the neighbors agree, then the children would sing:
¡Esta casa es de arroz
donde vive el Niño Dios!
This house is made of rice,
where Baby Jesus lives!
However, if for some reason the neighbors don’t provide the kids with the precious ingredients for their sancocho the kids would then sing:
¡Esta casa es de agujas
donde viven todas las brujas!
¡Esta casa es de ají
donde viven los cují!
This house is made of needles,
where all the witches live!
This house is made of chili peppers,
where selfish people live!
Needless to say, most people give the kids what they want.
Noche de Calabazas in Spain
While people in northern Spain celebrate Día de Todos los Santos or “All Saints Day” on November 1st, there’s a tradition heavily influenced by Halloween known as Noche de Calabazas or “Night of the Pumpkins” celebrated in the region of Galicia.
During this kind of Spanish Halloween, Galician people engage in some good old pumping-carving, light bonfires, and some even throw a costume party. In some cities of this northern region of Spain, people walk around the streets holding candles in their hands to honor their dead, and nowadays you can see some kids doing the traditional trick or treating that’s so popular in other parts of the world.
During these days, Galician people like to eat Huesos de Santo or “Saint’s Bones,” which are traditional pastries made with egg yolks stuffed with marzipan.
But no Galician Halloween celebration would be complete without drinking Queimada. Although not for children, the tradition of drinking Queimada plays a crucial role in the Galician Halloween traditions as it dates back to the 11th century.
Queimada is made with Galician aguardiente or “schnapps,” and flavored with orange peels, lemon rind, sugar, and coffee beans. Its preparation is a ritual among Galician people who even set the drink alight producing a spectacular blue flame in the process and recite the esconjuro which is a spell designed to ward off bad spirits.
The esconjuro is a long spell that you can read in Spanish and Galician in its entirety here, however you can read its ending below to give you an idea of the meaning behind this tradition:
Y cuando este brebaje
baje por nuestras gargantas,
quedaremos libres de los males
de nuestra alma
y de todo embrujamiento.
Fuerzas del aire,
tierra, mar y fuego,
a vosotros hago esta llamada:
Si es verdad que tenéis más poder
que la gente humana,
aquí y ahora,
haced que los espíritus
de los amigos que están fuera,
participen con nosotros
de esta queimada.
And when this beverage
goes down our throats,
we will get free of the evils
of our soul
and of any spell.
Forces of air,
earth, sea and fire,
to you I make this call:
If it’s true that you have more power
than human people,
here and now,
make the spirits
of the friends who are outside,
take part with us
in this queimada.
Celebrate Halloween in Spanish!
There you have it, not only in Latin America but also in Spain exist different Halloween traditions that make this date such a special celebration. If you want to learn more about how to celebrate Halloween in Spanish I recommend you check out Happy Halloween in Spanish: Vocabulary and Activities for Kids.
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