Halloween Celebrations in Latin America

Halloween Celebrations in Latin America

Halloween celebrations in Latin America

The Halloween parties are approaching! This celebration, originated in the United Kingdom, has become very popular almost all over the world. Halloween is celebrated in Latin America too and as with every Latin American festivals and fiestas, people celebrate with passion and dedication. So are there Halloween celebrations in Latin America? Yes! But with a Latin American twist and a mixture of cultures.

First a tiny bit of Halloween history. Do you know where the word Halloween comes from? It is actually a contraction of All Hallow´s Eve. This celebration originated in the United Kingdom as it was the Celts, an old warrior people, who started this traditional celebration. Later, the festival ended up on November 1 as “All Saints’ Day” and in the United States, the night before they used to ask for food or money which later transformed into the famous “trick or treat”.

Halloween Celebrations in Latin America

Halloween celebrations in Latin America have increased a lot over the years. During the latest century, the nature of the celebration and traditions of American Halloween has been traveling to Latin America. In some countries like Argentina, Bolivia, Chile, Colombia, Mexico and Panama and Peru, the celebration is similar to the one in North America.

Spanish Vocabulary Halloween

In these countries, you can see children go around wearing costumes and asking for candy. You can also find stores and houses decorated with curved pumpkins, cobwebs and more during the last half of October. Although many people in Latin America know the English word Halloween, it is even more common to refer to the celebration as ‘Noche de brujas’ which means literally ‘Night of the Witches’.

The youngsters don’t go out to ask for candy but go celebrate Halloween at a local disco or pub with friends, all dressed up. These parties are always beautifully decorated in the Halloween theme and regularly it is even possible to have some drinks and snacks in the theme.

In a similar way to Christian countries such as Spain, people in many Latin American countries also tend to visit and take flowers to their loved ones in the cemetery during the 1 and 2 November.

Mixture with traditional Latin American festivals

There are also many people in Latin America who don’t want to celebrate Halloween because of religious reasons, or, because they consider it an intrusion of the Latin American culture. Beside, different Latin American countries have their own traditions during this time of the year.

In Mexico, the celebration is mostly dedicated to ‘the Day of the Death’, known in Spanish as ‘el Día de los Muertos’. This day is celebrated with skulls, music, dancing, food stalls, including meetings in the graveyards where people leave gifts on the graves of their loved ones. The celebration is designed to honour the dead who, it is believed, return to their earthly homes on this date.

Halloween in Mexico

Many families in Mexico even construct an altar to the dead in their homes to honour deceased relatives and decorate it with candy, flowers, photographs, samples of the deceased’s favourite foods and drinks. The celebrations of the Day of the Death in Mexico are starting on October 31, where you can see many children trick-or-treating with their scary costumes, just like in the United States. Did you know that the Day of the Death is also celebrated in Peru?

Peru: día de la canción criolla

In Peru, people celebrate the ‘’Día de la Canción Criolla’’ or The Day of the Creole Song on the same day as Halloween – right before the Day of the Death. For many Peruvians the Creole Song is even more important than Halloween. Peruvians attach great importance to their traditions and culture, including music.

Criollan music is a genre that combines African, Spanish and other influences. The most popular style of musica criolla in Peru is the Marinera Dance, which is said to be the national dance of Peru. All throughout Latin America, the term “criolla” originally referred to the descendants of first settlers from Spain. In the Peru of today, however, it hints to the people and culture of the coastal region (as opposed to the Andean highlands) and of Lima in particular. Many bars present criolla bands on the October 31. The days after are national holidays, when people commemorate the death and celebrate life on Nov 1st and Nov 2nd.

Halloween in Cusco

Colombia: Angels we Are

In the coast city of Cartagena in Colombia, Tintililillo of Cartagena de Indias, also named ‘‘Ángeles somos’’ (Angels we are), is celebrated on November 1. It comes from a typical Colombian celebration where the children go out to ask for food while singing songs such as ‘’Angels we are, from heaven we come, begging for ourselves. Aguardiente and rum for Marcelo. Brandy and wine for Marcellin’’.

Tradition says that each child personifies an angel who brings blessings to the family in exchange for donations of food. It is also the perfect way for the locale kids to earn a little extra pocket money by singing: ‘’Tintililillo, tintililillo, five pesos for my pocket’’. The tradition is seen as very important for the local children as it is a practice in values such as coexistence, solidarity and a sense of belonging.

Halloween vocabulary

Every culture in every country worldwide has its own traditions to celebrate life and honour the dead. The different Halloween traditions in Latin America are proof of that. Even though people all over the world are very different, there is always a celebration that represents an opportunity to show respect to the departed. Would you like to witness and participate with the Halloween celebrations in Latin America? Start by learning some Spanish vocabulary in the Halloween theme!

* Do you want to see a great movie on Halloween? ‘’El laberinto del fauno’’ (English title: Pan’s Labyrinth) is a 2006 Spanish-Mexican dark fantasy film written and directed by Guillermo del Toro. A young girl escapes from her grim reality by following a mythical faun…

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