Sunday, November 2, 2008

Halloween in Spain

It's interesting to see how American holidays are viewed here in Spain. Halloween is not a traditional Spanish holiday (although I read an interesting article in El Mundo today, claiming that Halloween had been celebrated by the Celtic peoples in Galicia, and had later been suppressed by the Catholic church). Over the last few years, Halloween has been gaining in popularity. Still, I can't help thinking that they don't quite get it here. Mostly, the Halloween celebrations involve teenagers dressing up in costume and going to parties. Trick-or-Treating is unknown, and people look at me with a baffled expression when I talk about Jack-o'-lanterns.

Talking with the other teachers at my school, we realized that we had a teachable moment here. I put together a simple set of slides explaining Halloween (at least as it's celebrated in America), with some fun pictures. I also found a few campfire-quality ghost stories online to share with the classes. They were a big hit; there doesn't seem to be much of a tradition of ghost stories here. This is all fine, as long as I don't have any irate parents berating me for scaring their children.

Another funny incident was that one of the teachers put together an exercise about business opportunities related to Halloween. In one of the articles we found online, there was a sentence (paraphrased), "The Great Pumpkin isn't just threatening a few small pumpkin patches anymore." Now, picture trying to explain that to people who haven't grown up with Charlie Brown and Snoopy! So much of what you read is very culture-specific.

The next challenge will be Thanksgiving!

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