Below we share celebrations from Spanish-speaking countries during the spooky season.
If you happen to find yourself in Bogota or Cali during Halloween, you are in for quite the celebration. It is not only a great way to celebrate El Día del Niño (Day of the Children) but also a lot of fun for adults.
Here is what to expect for Colombian Halloween — Bogota has become the epicenter of Halloween for adults. Many nightclubs hold big costume contests where the locals participate, typically winning handsome monetary prizes. In Cali, a must-see event is the Moto Halloween Caravan. The motorists dress in ornate costumes and parade around on their bikes throughout the town.
Halloween is observed in Mexico due to the influence of the United States. However, when you are in Mexico from the end of October to Early November, you can expect to celebrate Día de Muertos, or the Day of the Dead. It is the day when families and friends welcome back the souls of loved ones who have crossed over.
Day of the Dead is a mix of pre-Columbian Mesoamerican Aztecs and other Nahua people’s traditions, along with pagan European celebrations of the dead. Ultimately, with the rise of Roman Catholicism, native traditions were appropriated by the church with the creation of All Saints Day and All Souls Day.
In some areas of Spain, schools close from 31 October to 3 November. Children do dress up in costumes, but families don’t decorate with pumpkins in some towns. In Galicia, celebrations are grander. Samaín, is an ancient autumn festival celebrated in Galicia, Spain (a predecessor of American Halloween). Noite dos Calacús or Night of the Pumpkins is all about pumpkin carving, costume parties, bonfires, and rituals.
Queimada is a hot punch made from orujo mixed with herbs, sugar, lemon peel, apple, and coffee beans. Brewed in a unique clay pot and stirred as enchantments banishing evil are chanted over it as it heats over a blue flame.
In the central American country of Nicaragua, the celebration you will most encounter is the Fiesta de Los Agüizotes. This celebration takes place on the last Friday of October. The tradition began in the 20th century in the western city of Masaya. Like many others, the legend of Los Agüizotes was initially designed to instill a little fear into children. The Agüizotes are made up of La Llorona, ghosts, devils, headless priests, and other equally terrifying creatures, who appear at about 8 pm to the sound of music, scaring children throughout the town.
While some Peruvian children celebrate Halloween due to the influence of the United States, 31 October is El Día de la Canción Criolla or the Day of Criolla music. Criolla music is the music of coastal Peru with influences from Spain, the Andeans, and Africa. Outside of music, you get to enjoy Peruvian Criolla foods such as aji de gallina, tacu tacu, and causa. The next day the people of Peru celebrate All Saints Day.
It is fascinating to learn about the influences, similarities, and distinct differences that make celebrations unique and interesting. If you have ever traveled to any of the countries we list or spent any time abroad during Halloween, share your experiences, thoughts, and impressions in the comments below.