Importing Halloween Traditions to Salamanca
by Kimberly on Tuesday, October 26, 2010
Spaniards don't technically celebrate Halloween, but as with most commercial American holidays, every year the Halloween atmosphere grows in Spain, and you can see shops decorated in orange and black as well as some people/kids dressed up in costumes.
But it is not normal, not yet at least. This year, I, being the American I am and determined to maintain some of my holiday cheer, invited some Spanish friends over to my apartment in Salamanca to carve some pumpkins. The first feat was to find pumpkins.
Oh, you may ask yourself: "What? They have no pumkins?"
Of course they have pumpkins! But most are not the carving variety but rather the eating variety. Little do us Americans know that most of those yummy cans of canned pumpkin actually contain the eating variety of pumpkin rather than the carving variety. There are many varieties and most are not round and plump like a traditional carving pumkins but rather long and and skinny.
So, I invited people to come over and carve pumpkins (for the first time in their lives) on the 24th of October, they accepted, now I needed to find some pumpkins. I went to my husband's parent's village and after asking around we found someone who had pumpkins in a storage unit for feeding livestock. BINGO! They were round, well, at least most of them. Not the most beautiful pumpkins I have ever seen, but they were round, orange, and totally carvable. I chose some and we were on our way.
Next feat: Tools and Halloween carving designs! Yes, if we were going to do this I wanted to do it well! Luckily with the help of Facebook and a generous friend, I was able to get my hands on several sets of tools and pumpkin stencils.
It was fun, we only had one cut hand (my husband) several complaints ("What! I have to keep scraping!? Aggh!!"), one cut off set of horns ("I can't believe that after all that work to cut out the horns I just cut them off by accident!!!"), and an overall good result. They all hung out for awhile taking photos and commenting that they were, indeed, much more good-looking when the lights were out and the candles were burning brightly inside.
The end result: (the vampire peering over a tombstone is mine!)
The seeds are still drying in my house and I fully intend to bake them tonight and distribute them among the Spanish participants tomorrow. I hope we can repeat it next year!
Spaniards, during this time, celebrate All Saints day on the 1st of November. It is the most closely related holiday to Halloween and likely has similar origins. Read about All Saint's Day in Spain. In Mexico, a simliar holiday is celebrated: read about the Day of the Dead.