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HALLOWEEN

How to celebrate Halloween in Spain (a festival invented in Galicia)

The Halloween holiday is celebrated across Spain not least because it involves a national bank holiday tagged onto a weekend which is known as a puente and ensures that everyone has three days off.

How to celebrate Halloween in Spain (a festival invented in Galicia)
Photo: AFP

But of course this is Spain which means that things are done their own way, so don’t expect carved pumpkins and trick or treating to done in the same way as it is in America.

Three day celebration

 All Saints Day falls on a Sunday this year which means technically there is no reason to give anyone a day off to get back to their village and visit their departed loved-ones. But this is Spain and everyone loves a puente so a bank holiday has been added on Monday, just so people can have a three day weekend.

However, because of covid-19 restrictions, much of Spain has closed regional borders or imposed perimeter lockdowns to stop the movement of people in a bid to curb the spread of infection.

Photo: AFP

 

Dressing up

Children are expected to dress up in spooky costumes for their last day of school before the Halloween long weekend, oh and the teachers too, and things generally focus on the creepy. Think witches, zombies and devils rather than superheroes, TV stars and literary favourites.

In normal years, some towns stage community trick or treating events inviting children in dress-up to visit a circuit of shops where they will be given candy and treats culminating in a costume party in a local square, but this won't  be happening this year.

And there won't be the usual Halloween themed events in pubs, clubs and restaurants. Remember groups are now limited to six people maximum and there's a nationwide curfew in place.

However there's no reason you won't see an organised zombie march taking place in a plaza near you – as long as they are socially distanced!


Photo: AFP

 

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Galicia: The birthplace of Halloween

In Galicia, the northwestern region famous for its rich Gaelic folklore and ghost legends, Halloween is a seriously big deal. In fact, some argue that it was invented here.

Known as Samaín the ancient autumn festival celebrated in Galicia was a precursor of America's Halloween.

In Galician villages such as Cedeira, O Vicedo and Narón, kids and adults have for centuries dressed up as spirits and magical beings, organised death marches, carved scary faces in pumpkins and gone trick or treating, all activities that will be curtailed this year.

It starts on October 31st with the Noite dos Calacús (Night of the Pumpkins) involving as pumpkin carving, costume parties, bonfires, rituals. 

Look out for the queimada – a  hot punch made from orujo mixed with herbs, sugar, lemon peel, apple and coffee beans. It is brewed in a special clay pot and stirred with a ladle while incantations banishing evil are chanted over it as it burns with a blue flame.

Photo: AFP

Catalonia, chestnuts and witches

Across Catalonia, towns usually stage the traditional Castanyada – the traditions of which date back hundreds of years and involve a funereal feast of vegetables, nuts, chestnuts and sweet bread rolls. 

But all these events are cancelled this year. 

However, there is no reason why you can't recreate the festivities with your family or housemates at home. Here's the recipe for the small bread rolls known as panallets.

READ ALSO:  Panellets: How to make the traditional Catalan Halloween treat


Photo: Nadine/Flickr

Halloween is also known in Spain as Dia de las Brujas and you’ll see creepy decorations of witches propped up all over the place.

The small town of Sant Feliu Sasserra near Bages in Catalonia really celebrates the witch cult honouring 23 women sentenced to death for witchcraft during the Inquisition.

All Saints Day


A man tends the grave of a loved on in Almudena cemetery in Madrid. Photo: Lynn Spreadbury/The Local

November 1st is the Día de Todos los Santos when families gather in cemeteries to tend to their loved ones’ graves taking fresh flowers and special pastries.

These include the peculiarly named buñuelos de viento – nun’s farts – which are bite-sized donuts filled wih cream; huesos de santo – bones of the holy – which are finger sized tubes of marzipan; and panellets, nutty pasties.

This year however, authorities are urging people to maintain social distancing and avoid meeting groups of people larger than six. 

Drones will be patrolling the larger cemeteries to make sure people are keeping to the rules.

This year, authorities  have urged citizens to act responsibly given the fact that Spain is now in the grip of the second wave of coronavirus.

“This isn't the year for going to cemeteries nor having Halloween parties, nor going anywhere,” insisted Enrique Lopez, Madrid's regional justice minister. 

HolyWin

It’s not all about ghouls and ghosties.


Suggested outfits from the Bishopric of Cadiz and Ceuta. Photo: Shower of Roses

The Spanish Catholic Church has been fighting back against the popularity of the “satanic festival” of Halloween by urging good Christian children to forgo zombie, ghost and devil outfits and instead dress up as “saints, virgins and apostles”.

Recents years have seen the rise of “Holywins” parties thrown by churches or catholic schools with children dressing up their favourite saint, a monk or nun, or even one of the apostles. But they won't be happening this year either.

“With Holywins, which stands for Holiness Wins, one can avoid the pagan festival and reclaim the meaning of the Catholic feast day of All Saints,” reads a statement from the Diocese of Cartagena.

Stay at home

The good news is that there are no restrictions on staying at home and scaring yourself silly with a horror film on Halloween night.

READ MORE: 12 Spanish horror films to terrify you at Halloween

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TRAVEL

OFFICIAL: Vaccinated global travellers will finally be able to come to Spain from June 7th

The Spanish government on Saturday June 5th published a state bulletin confirming that it will modify the entry rules for vaccinated non-EU/Schengen citizens from June 7th. 

OFFICIAL: Vaccinated global travellers will finally be able to come to Spain from June 7th
Photo: ALEX WONG / GETTY IMAGES NORTH AMERICA / Getty Images via AFP

As we reported ahead of time on Friday, Spain has gone ahead and changed its entry rules for non-EU/Schengen vaccinated travellers, only seven days after it extended a ban on non-essential travel from outside the bloc.

This has caused plenty of confusion over the past week, as Prime Minister Pedro Sánchez had initially said that all vaccinated travellers, “regardless of their country of origin”, would be able to come to Spain from June 7th, whereas last weekend’s state bulletin BOE made no mention of vaccinated travellers and in fact extended the ban on non-essential travel from third countries until June 30th.

In the end, Sánchez and his government have stuck to their word, and were just keeping their cards close to their chest while preparing a new BOE with conditions that modify the travel rules published only seven days earlier.  

What has Spain now confirmed?

Spain has “modified the criteria for the temporary restriction of non-essential travel from third countries to the EU and Schengen countries” the document begins. 

The standout modification is that people who wish to travel to Spain from outside the EU/Schengen Zone can do so from June 7th if they have a vaccination certificate and have had their full vaccination treatment or last dose 14 days before travel. 

In essence, vaccinated people have been added to the list of non-EU/Schengen travellers who are exempt from the ban on non-essential travel to Spain, which up to now had been mainly for Spanish nationals and residents, students, several different categories of key workers and in some cases spouses and family members of Spanish/EU and those who can prove force majeure reasons (more details here and here). 

This BOE is the first official document confirming Pedro Sánchez’s words on May 21st, and has been released less than 48 hours before the new rule comes into effect, at 00:00 hours on June 7th 2021. 

There are no changes to the list of non-EU countries which are exempt from Spain’s non-essential travel rule. People from Australia, Israel, New Zealand, Rwanda, Singapore, South Korea, Thailand, Hong Kong, Macao, China, the United Kingdom and Japan can continue coming to Spain for non-essential reasons such as holidays.

The difference for vaccinated travellers from countries that are not on the list is that they as “specific people” are now also exempt from the non-essential travel ban, as long as they can prove they’ve been vaccinated.

The Spanish government has published a second state bulletin which lays out the new conditions for travel to Spain regarding vaccination certificates, health passes and more, so stay tuned to The Local Spain as we will cover all this in detail.

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Reader question: Which Covid vaccines does Spain accept for international tourists to visit?

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