One lovely part of being an English as a Second Language teacher, in a country that's not my own, is that I have the great job of explaining North American traditions and holidays, such as Thanksgiving and Halloween. This year, I'm teaching several classes and individual tuition students, so I taught many Halloween lesson plans and learned a lot myself!
My students taught me that, instead of Halloween, the Spanish celebrate Castayana, which is a festival where you eat warm, roasted chestnuts castanyas (available at many street vendors), and panellets, a glorious Spanish calorie-bomb made from pine nuts, powdered, sugared almonds and syrup (available at many bakeries, in October only). Yum!
Did you know?...
- Halloween originated in Northern Europe, primarily in parts of England and Northern Ireland. When the Europeans immigrated to North America, many of the traditions were kept (and some adapted)
- October 31st - All Hallow's Eve was considered to be the night when all the dead souls came to live and the spirits came to haunt the living. People dressed up to look like dead people to trick the spirits into thinking they belonged (and to avoid being taken away by them)
- Jack-o-lanterns - are a new version of the candles that people would leave in their windows to guide the spirits away from their homes (and back to the land of the dead)
- Halloween candy - is the new version of food offerings that people used to leave spirits, also to guide them home
- November 1st - All Saint's Day was considered to be the day to celebrate the dead. Many Spaniards (and people of other European nationalities) visit cemeteries on this day.
- November 2nd - All Soul's Day was created by the Catholic Church much later to celebrate the living souls