My first Halloween in Spain involved ice cream, beer, historic plazas, and a not-so-elaborate costume for once in my life. In past years I’ve been a flamingo, Cherie Currie (from The Runaways), Peter Pan, Nancy Drew, Kat from Kat & Garth (SNL). My costumes are elaborate, homemade, and I’m very serious about them. In true Spanish style, this is the first Halloween that I really relaxed with the details and enjoyed the moment rather than spend lots of hours and money on my character details. Don’t get me wrong, I still love doing that. 😀
The Spanish Holiday Trifecta
The Spaniards aren’t just celebrating Halloween; October 31st, Dia de las Brujas, aka Day of the Witches aka Halloween, happens to kick off a series of holidays in Spain. Some businesses, companies, and schools close on October 31st in preparation for the celebrations. The night of October 31st, people dress in their mostly traditional costumes and flood the streets. November 1st is officially the bank holiday, meaning that most businesses are closed on this day, Dia de Todos los Santos, All Saints Day. November 2 is Dia de los Muertos, Day of the dead, which is a good reason the Spaniards “deadify” their costumes, as I will discuss next. As stated on the website http://spainattractions.es/halloween-spain/, “Far from being a commercial holiday, the Spanish Halloween is all about honoring the dead and celebrating the continuity of life.”
America is a very individualistic nation where we try to outdo the other in every aspect– including Halloween costumes. While I’m okay with that because I really dig original costumes and characters, it was refreshing to see the way the Spaniards do Halloween. Even if you don’t have a costume, you’re expected to paint your face in a scary way. The traditional makeup mimicked skulls, with white face paint and black eye, nose, and mouth holes. In Spain it’s more about the tradition than it is about the costume itself. Everyone is supposed to look “spooky.” “Cute” costumes don’t really exist. In fact, my host mom said my costume was “too pretty for Halloween.” Haha! The traditional costumes include witches, vampires, devils, and ghouls. When it comes to group costumes in Spain, everyone in the group wears the exact same costume! No matter what the costume is, everyone is zombified. Cute fairies with glitter lipstick and eyeshadow. Dead. Bloodstains. Disney princesses and villains. Dead. A red teletubby. A zombie. It didn’t matter what your costume was– as long as you looked dead, gross, or scary. There were many knives through heads, mouths sewn shut, and devil horns. I was actually creeped out!
All the bars and local businesses decorate with pumpkins, skeletons, and cobwebs. The decor seemingly appears overnight! I was out on Sunday and everything was in normal condition. But on Monday, October 31, everything had been covered in spooky Halloween decoration! Even the ice cream shops went all out. I had regular Chicle flavor (bubblegum) and then “cementario,” a cemetery flavor. It was chocolate. 😉
As far as celebrations go, people get dressed up and literally walk around the streets. In the US, you have somewhere to be, likely a party that you have to pay to get into. But here in Spain, if you don’t have a party to attend, you just hang out at the plaza or in the streets. It’s not just for children here! My friends and I walked around the main streets and squares and then sat at a taperia to have some beers and simply watch people. It was a Halloween to remember!
My last-minute “costume” included “creepy” accessories purchased at Claire’s. I had black skeleton earrings, a black choker, and a black flower for my hair. My makeup was dark thanks to a 2-euro lipstick I purchased hours before the festivities began. If I had known how the Spaniards did their makeup, I would have done a better job of zombifying myself. I wore a black tulle skirt that I actually wear in real life haha. I’m not even sure what my costume was, but that doesn’t matter to anyone. Anything goes in Spain on Halloween. As long as you’re creepy! My boyfriend didn’t have a costume, so at the last minute I made him a “cereal killer.” We put cereal boxes on a string and tied them around his waist. He carried around his weapon, a spoon. I was quite proud of it, if I must say so. I should have painted his face like a zombie too to make him fit in. Better luck next year! 😉