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Our Multicultural Halloween

We all know that this is all about candy and horror movies, but we wanted to share about how we like to celebrate this time of the year among the different countries where our team is living. 

If you already read some of our crew member blog posts, you probably found out that many of us are from different countries with very different traditions when it comes to these days.

We share a lot of aspects of this holiday among our team and we wanted you to discover that not all is about pumpkin carving and zombie costumes, every place has it’s special treat. 

But we are together in one place. A place that we all share as a company, and at the same time is open to our guests, that place is here, our website! And yes, if you’re visiting for a treat, you will of course have it!

Skip History and go directly to the treat.

Candy and presents for the little ones in Sicily

A big portion of our crew members live in Italy where most of the traditions originate. In the 8th century AD, Pope Gregory III proclaimed that All Saints Day (a day to honour all saints), had to be celebrated on November the 1st. Later on, Pope Gregory VI ordered the feast of “All Saints” to be celebrated universally. As happens with all major feasts, a vigil was kept (31st of October) and it was called “All Hallows Eve”, then later “Halloween”.

All Souls Day, a day to honour all loved ones that passed away, is celebrated on November the 2nd and is also religious in its origins as was proclaimed by St. Odilon, an abbot from France in the tenth century AD. The “Commemorazione dei defunti” as Italians refer to “All Souls Day” has a tradition that lasts to this day, particularly in Sicily. 

It was customary, to leave for the dearly departed a piece of bread and a glass of water next to a pair of shoes, which were used by the dead to walk around the house and greet their relatives.The shoes were later filled with delicious gifts for the family. Among the sweet gifts there were: candied fruit, martorana fruit, almond paste, taralli and “ossa di morto”. Sweets are still made today for this period. We asked a crew member about it and she told us:

“It was a tradition to bring presents to children who have behaved well, whereas charcoal to children who behaved badly. This was a very important tradition, as it was very similar to Christmas today for children. Nowadays, children get presents or sugar-charcoal. Additionally there are some typical sweets that we call “ossa di morto” = bones of the dead , which are crunchy and hard to bite”.

Home-made “ossa di morto”

The sweets called Ossa di Morto (dead man’s bones), can also be found under the name of Scardellini, Mustazzoli, Paste di Garofano. It will depend on the region.

The Sicilian Halloween is a religious day wrapped in home-made candy and presents for the kids of the family. This makes the perfect family day and of course an opportunity to remind the little ones to behave!

Roasted chestnuts in Tenerife

Moving on to another region of Europe, where another big portion of us live and where our main office is located, let’s see how Halloween is in Tenerife, Spain.

In the island, the festivity has its roots in the agricultural aspect of the season and lasts from the night of the 31st of October to the 2nd of November and connects with the Christian religious calendar, being the most significant the Day of All Saints (1st of November) where families gather together to visit the cemetery and bring flowers to their late relatives. This holiday is popularly known as “La noche de los finados” (the night of the dead).

This event, apart from gathering families together, focuses on special foods that are traditionally shared like chestnuts, walnuts, apples, and other stationary goods. November is the month of the chestnuts and this day marks also the beginning of a festivity where you can find roasted chestnuts as a common street food.

Roasted chestnuts
The most popular snack of the season

As the celtic tradition of Halloween was introduced, the festivity is combined with trick or treating in the streets and celebrations in costumes among the younger ones. One of our crew members told us:

“Nowadays it is very common to have a quiet day to rest, go for a walk and enjoy some roasted chestnuts, this is very important! I once tried to make roasted chestnuts at home, but they were nowhere near the flavour of the ones bought in the street. So if you once visit, you can’t miss this treat”.

It seems like a very cozy and seasonal snack that most of you will definitely want to try.

Argentina’s Andean origins

In Argentina, where our newest members live, the holiday follows the Roman Catholic tradition for the first two days of November. But besides being a day to remember the ancestors, in some regions there is a particular way of honouring them that follows a pre-hispanic tradition from the andean culture called Aya Marq’ay Killa that in Quechua means “month to carry the dead

In the northern region of the country where the holiday has this influence, it is celebrated with a big bake of bread and foods that every family prepares for their late relatives. On the first day of November the whole family is engaged in the cooking and every piece has to be made double for balance. It is said that at night their relatives’ souls will come to visit and enjoy the feast prepared for them. It is believed that this is a way to balance the forces of nature.

Table ready
An example of a table ready to celebrate

In Argentina it is not about pumpkins and costumes but mostly about family and honour to the departed.

“I remember as a kid that it was a day to go to church and visit the cemetery, the aspect of treats and costumes was only a thing we did for our English lessons at school. I remember my mom being puzzled by the fact that my English teacher requested a squash for homework… (I was too, it was a surprise activity so I could not explain it to my mom) I ended up in class with a globe zucchini… It turned out to be the weirdest jack-o-lantern. And I was not the only kid to bring that vegetable!”. 

The celtic tradition is slowly being introduced also in the southern hemisphere, yet with the pre-hispanic traditions still in course, there’s a balance between the known popular culture and the discovery of how the ancient communities perceived these days. Let’s continue with our journey and find out what the English do for Halloween.

England, the roots of Halloween

Last but not least, we have a member in England where this celebration can be traced 2000 years back when the celtic tradition celebrated Samhain, an important day in the Gaelic calendar that marked the end of the harvest and the beginning of the winter and the new year on November the 1st. It originally symbolized the boundary between the world of the living and the world of the dead. It was also believed that on the night of the 31st of October ghosts came to visit the mortal world, people would lit large bonfires and wear costumes in order to ward off evil spirits.

Part of this fighting off evil spirits gave birth to guising, a tradition that has a long history that goes back at least to 16th century Scotland and meant going from house to house dressed up to sing or recite verses in exchange for food or money. The tradition evolved, leaving behind the reciting or singing to just a “trick or treat” to receive only candy.

Halloween evolution

Sometimes these traditions are taken for granted when you live in a serious trick or treating territory and you can be surprised if you do not celebrate, as it happened to our crew member:

“I never celebrated Halloween in my life until we moved to our house in a residential neighborhood about 12 years ago. And one day, this was before we had children, we got a knock with scary looking children when we opened the door. “trick or treat”, they screamed. We had no sweets in the house so my wife offered them a banana. The years after that we never had these children knock again. Since having children of our own, we only let them knock on doors where there is a pumpkin with a candle outside, as there is an understanding that it is okay to trick or treat at these houses. The tradition has grown in the last 10-15 years and it is now a huge retail boost in every store”.

We can tell by his personal experience how everything evolved and changed in a few years, even in a region of long history. From the traditions point of view, it is good to remember our roots but it’s also important to be in line with the current celebrations. We are glad to be where we are and to be able to learn from all traditions, but we must not forget about treats!

A treat from us to you

For the Halloween phenomena you can find all kinds of events, merchandise and offers, everyone wants to participate in this event one way or another. And we want to join too! That is why we thought of celebrating with a good deal for our users:

This will be a special opportunity to enjoy a 30% discount on all our products, starting Saturday till Sunday at midnight. Remember this is for a limited time only and valid for first purchases and not renewals. 

Have a wonderful Halloween season and enjoy treats, tradition, and most important, family!

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