Halloween is a spooky, entertaining holiday celebrated in the United States and other countries that actually originated with the Celts in Europe. What began as a religious day to honor deceased loved ones (known as All Saints’ Day and recognized by the Catholic Church) turned into a commercial holiday full of candy, costumes, and scary movies. Interested in learning more about Halloween’s history? Check out this National Geographic video!
In the U.S., Halloween is often important because it characterizes a special time in childhood and may carry different traditions within a family. Many kids, even through the pre-teen years, dress up in costumes and go trick-or-treating in their neighborhoods with their friends or family members. Growing up in a big family of five kids, I have fond memories of hanging the Halloween decorations inside and outside our house.
We also loved carving pumpkins. We’d start by cutting off the top of the pumpkin. Then, we’d clear out the inside parts but save the pumpkin seeds. Next, we’d carve a face or design on the side of the pumpkin. The pumpkin seeds would be washed and roasted in the oven with a little bit of salt, as a savory snack. The final step was placing a little candle inside and putting the lit jack-o-lantern on the steps to the front door.
Many neighborhoods in my town participated in a game called “booing.” In order to “boo” someone, you had to prepare a bag of treats or Halloween-themed surprises. You’d then wait until nighttime and sneakily drop the bag on the doorstep of a neighbor’s house. After knocking or ringing the doorbell, you’d run and hide! It sounds a little silly, but as a child, the adrenaline rush of surprising another family while trying not to get caught was a lot of fun.
In the south and many parts of the U.S., fall is the season for adventuring through corn mazes, drinking apple cider, and picking out small or big pumpkins at a local pumpkin patch. The leaves change colors, and the weather getting colder signifies that winter is coming.
Here in Spain, as I’ve spoken with Spanish teachers and students, I’ve learned that Halloween was not always celebrated. It is a much more recently recognized holiday, and while some kids do dress up and go trick-or-treating, it is not universally part of the culture. I really enjoy hearing about Spanish traditions as well and being able to share this cultural exchange at our high school.
At Las Lagunas, we engaged with Halloween by decorating the main entrance to the school. On October 31st, during the break, some of the students made fake scars with paint for their peers in the auditorium. During 6th period, the younger students were able to go to a concert that the Music Department prepared and take pictures with a big Halloween frame during a photocall.