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Halloween or Hallowe'en (/ˌhæləˈwn, -ˈn, ˌhɑːl-/; a contraction of "All Hallows' Evening"),[1] also known as Allhalloween,[2] All Hallows' Eve,[3] or All Saints' Eve,[4] is a yearly celebration observed in a number of countries on 31 October, the eve of the Western Christian feast of All Hallows' Day. It initiates the triduum of Allhallowtide,[5] the time in the liturgical year dedicated to remembering the dead, including saints (hallows), martyrs, and all the faithful departed believers.[6] Within Allhallowtide, the traditional focus of All Hallows' Eve revolves around the theme of using "humor and ridicule to confront the power of death."[7]


The word Halloween or Hallowe'en dates to about 1745[8] and is of Christian origin.[9] The word "Halloween" means "hallowed evening" or "holy evening".[10] It comes from a Scottish term for All Hallows' Eve (the evening before All Hallows' Day).[11][12] In Scots, the word "eve" is even, and this is contracted to e'en or een. Over time, (All) Hallow(s) Eve(n) evolved into Halloween. Although the phrase "All Hallows'" is found in Old English (ealra hālgena mæssedæg, all saints mass-day), "All Hallows' Eve" is itself not seen until 1556.[12][13]


In Spain, on this night, special pastries are baked, known as "bones of the holy" (Spanish: Huesos de Santo) and put them on the graves of the churchyard, a practice that continues to this day.[14] Like most things in Spain, what the nation borrows from overseas is usually adjusted and transformed into something of their own, not to mention each region puts its personal stamp on it. The same goes with Halloween, which is clearly not an American affair here. It doesn't have the pomp and hype as in the United States, but rather a traditional feel which sets it apart from most European countries.

Better known as El Dia de los Muertos (Day of the Dead or All Souls Day), Halloween in Spain is a three-day celebration that kicks off on October 31st with Dia de las Brujas (Day of the Witches), continues with Dia de Todos los Santos (All Saints Day) on November 1st, and culminates with Dia de los Muertos on November 2nd.

Far from being a commercial holiday, the Spanish Halloween is all about honoring the dead and celebrating the continuity of life. Accordingly, specific customs and rituals can be observed throughout the country, most of them similar with those in Mexico and other Spanish-speaking nations. For instance, during the Dia de Todos los Santos, which is a public holiday, many families tend to gather at the grave of their deceased relatives with holly water, flowers, food and drink in order to rejoice and socialize.[15]

Barcelona and Catalonia

While Halloween in Spain is mainly observed as a children’s holiday or a spiritual festivity intended to commemorate the dead, throughout the country’s big cities and vibrant university towns you’ll always find clubs, hotels and restaurants organizing glamorous events and colorful costume parties.


One of these places is Barcelona, where in addition to the sprightly Halloween fiestas held on October 31st in the city’s famous bars and nightclubs, you’ll also have the chance to enjoy the Catalan tradition of La Castanyada. This is a popular All Saints’ Day festival held each year on November 1st in Barcelona and Catalonia, and welcomes visitors with various events, music concerts and stalls filled with seasonal delicacies, including castanyes (chestnuts), sweet potatoes, sweet wine, and panellets – small Catalan cakes made of marzipan, almonds and various flavors. This autumn fair is also celebrated in Galicia (Magosto) and Asturias (Magüestu).

Another Halloween custom that can be observed in Barcelona is the Ruta de Altares (Route of the Altars). In the last couple of years, this relatively new tradition specific to the Mexican Día de los Muertos has become increasingly evident around the city’s streets, bars, restaurants, shops, galleries and associations.

For an even more authentic Catalan tradition, head to the small village of Sant Feliu Sasserra in the comarca of Bages, where a fascinating two-day Witch Festival is held every year in the honor of the 23 women who were sentenced to death during the Inquisition after being accused of witchcraft. Locally known as Fira de les Bruixes, the event begins on the night of October 31st in Plaça de l’Església with an esoteric parade that runs through the village’s darkest corners. On November 1st , All Saints Day finds the town full of dancers, street artists and stalls offering everything from local delicacies to artisan crafts and tarot services. Sant Feliu Sasserra is also home to a small Witch Museum.[16]

Religious observances

On Hallowe'en (All Hallows' Eve), in Spain, Christian priests toll their church bells in order to remind their congregants to remember the dead on All Hallows' Eve.[17]

See also

Halloween Wiki should give you some ideas for how to celebrate Halloween and also give you some further information on some of the scary things associated with it.


  1. Thomas Thomson, Charles Annandale (1896). A History of the Scottish People from the Earliest Times: From the Union of the kingdoms, 1706, to the present time. Blackie.'en+contraction&dq=Hallowe'en+contraction&hl=en&ei=Y6i8TtXJOcargwe2lN28Bw&sa=X&oi=book_result&ct=result&resnum=5&ved=0CD8Q6AEwBDgK. Retrieved 31 October 2011. "Of the stated rustic festivals peculiar to Scotland the most important was Hallowe'en, a contraction for All-hallow Evening, or the evening of All-Saints Day, the annual return of which was a season for joy and festivity."
  2. Palmer, Abram Smythe (1882). Folk-etymology. Johnson Reprint. p. 6.
  3. Merriam-Webster's Encyclopædia of World Religions. Merriam-Webster. 1999.'s+eve+christian+origin&hl=en&ei=dUyvTrfhIYetgwen5YiCAg&sa=X&oi=book_result&ct=result&resnum=6&ved=0CE8Q6AEwBQ#v=onepage&q&f=false. Retrieved 31 October 2011. "Halloween, also called All Hallows' Eve, holy or hallowed evening observed on October 31, the eve of All Saints' Day. The pre-Christian observances influenced the Christian festival of All Hallows' Eve, celebrated on the same date."
  4. NEDCO Producers' Guide. 31-33. Northeast Dairy Cooperative Federation. 1973. "Originally celebrated as the night before All Saints' Day, Christians chose November first to honor their many saints. The night before was called All Saints' Eve or hallowed eve meaning holy evening."
  5. "Tudor Hallowtide". National Trust for Places of Historic Interest or Natural Beauty. 2012. "Hallowtide covers the three days – 31 October (All-Hallows Eve or Hallowe'en), 1 November (All Saints) and 2 November (All Souls)."
  6. Don't Know Much About Mythology: Everything You Need to Know About the Greatest Stories in Human History but Never Learned (Davis), HarperCollins, page 231
  7. Portaro, Sam (25 January 1998). A Companion to the Lesser Feasts and Fasts. Cowley Publications. p. 199. ISBN 1461660513. "All Saints' Day is the centerpiece of an autumn triduum. In the carnival celebrations of All Hallows' Eve our ancestors used the most powerful weapon in the human arsenal, the power of humor and ridicule to confront the power of death. The following day, in the commemoration of All Saints, we gave witness to the victory of incarnate goodness embodied in remarkable deeds and doers triumphing over the misanthropy of darkness and devils. And in the commemoration of All Souls we proclaimed the hope of common mortality expressed in our aspirations and expectations of a shared eternity."
  8. "Online Etymology Dictionary: Halloween". Retrieved 13 October 2013.
  9. The A to Z of Anglicanism (Colin Buchanan), Scarecrow Press, page 8
  10. The American Desk Encyclopedia (Steve Luck), Oxford University Press, page 365
  11. "SND: Hallow". Retrieved 13 October 2013.
  12. 12.0 12.1 The Oxford English Dictionary (2nd ed.). Oxford: Oxford Univ. Press. 1989. ISBN 0-19-861186-2.
  13. "DOST: Hallow Evin". Retrieved 13 October 2013.
  14. The Halloween Encyclopedia (Lisa Morton), McFarland, page 9
  17. Bannatyne, Lesley Pratt (1 August 1998). Halloween: An American Holiday, an American History. Pelican Publishing. p. 12. ISBN 1565543467.'en+All+Hallows+Eve+Spain+church+bells&hl=en&sa=X&ei=mx-TUPOTBJTM9gTAooDwAQ&ved=0CCwQ6AEwAA#v=onepage&q&f=false. Retrieved 1 November 2012. "Priests in tiny Spanish villages still ring their church bells to remind parishioners to honor the dead on All Hallows Eve."
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