Our Spanish teacher Ana asked us to prepare something about Halloween for our lesson on Monday. We explained to her that. although Halloween is Celtic in origin, all the commercial trappings are in fact American not British. No matter, the Ukrainians and the Moroccans in our class would benefit from knowing something of the traditions that are widely followed in the UK like apple bobbing and making pumpkin lanterns.
Like a lot of Americanisms, the commercialisation* of Halloween is catching on here in Spain. When you consider that the most popular cigarettes here in Spain are Marlborough and the hamburger is slowly taking over from paella, it is only to be expected that American customs like Halloween will infiltrate slowly but inextricably into the culture. I suspect that eventually the whole world, except for Russia and a few other countries, will eventually be Americanised and we will all end up celebrating the 4th July.
Anyway, Pam and I thought that we ought to prepare for an onslaught of trick or treaters so we bought a large bag of sweets to hand out. As it happened only two groups came to press our buzzer. Both lots were very polite and thanked Pam for the handful of sweets that she gave them. Then that was it - nada. So we have a large bag of sweets left over which is mildly disappointing because neither of us eat a lot of sweets.
If you had been in Carrefour last week, you would have thought that the whole of Spain was going to be out last night and that our bag of sweets would have easily run out before the trick or treaters stopped coming. The French hypermarket had the lot; masks, costumes, devil’s forks and plastic pumpkin lanterns. But then I read an article in La Opinión Caruña dated 27th October.
The article explains that the catholic church does not approve of Halloween which it describes as an antichristian, pagan festival driven by commercial greed. The church believes that children, for whom Halloween is mainly aimed at, should celebrate good, life and beauty rather than terror, fear and death. Clearly, worshipping the occult does not sit happily with the hierarchy of the catholic church.
Anyway Halloween is over and today is All Saints Day when people from the town will visit the cemetery to remember the deceased. Many will have already taken flowers to decorate the niches, most will light candles, some will even take chairs and sit by the niches for awhile thinking of those who have passed. In my opinion visiting the cemetery to remember your loved ones is a far more fitting way to spend your time than wandering round in a Dracula costume. However, it just isn’t as much fun and I suspect that is the problem that the catholic church will have to face.
* Note to my Spanish readers - see we Brits can do long words as well :-)