Halloween is quite recent in our territory but it is syncretised with the Christian tradition of All Saints. As many of our celebrations, the origin of this festival is pagan and was Christianized around the year 1000.
This celebration presents a certain parallelism with the Celtic ‘Samhain’, which was the beginning of the year for this culture in which the memory and presence of the spirits of the deceased was also invoked. The Romans also had a celebration on this date: they celebrated Pomona, the goddess of fruit trees. In the Anglo-Saxon world the tradition of All hallow even (All Saints Day) would be diffused and imported to North America, from where it has mainly come to us.
In this festival the pumpkin acquired a great importance and represents the Irish legend of an evil character, Jack, that received the lantern of the devil to be able to guide himself in the afterlife since he was not able to go to heaven nor to hell. Another custom associated with Halloween and clearly for children was that kids went to the houses disguised for the occasion and ask for sweets or presents to neighbours intoning the well-known ‘trick or treat’, that is to say, or collaboration under blackmail or retaliation.
We can distinguish two parts: the festive and secular part of Halloween on the afternoon of 31 October, and the most religious part of the traditional Christian holiday, on 1 and 2 November.
The Halloween party has been celebrated for some years in Sant Joan d’Alacant. In the afternoon, there are some activities for children, who come dressed up in disguises and can enjoy the snacks, puppet show, workshops and inflatables. There are also other activities for young people and adults, such as scary shorts films and terrifying dances. At night, the party continues with activities in which the attendants disguised as terrifying characters come to the scheduled events as the ‘zombie race’ that attracts a large audience to enjoy this terrifying and fun night.
The religious part of the Christian festival begins on 1 November with the usual visit to the municipal cemetery, where relatives and friends come to leave flowers or candles to their loved ones or share memories or experiences. In the afternoon, a mass in the cemetery takes place starting with the vespers of the day of the Deceased that ends with the first ‘toques a muerto’ (ring the bell to dead) until the night. The following day is the typical day of going to the church for the masses of remembrance of the deceased, which are attended by many more people than usual for respect, remembrance, or even fear of alleged reprisals of their deceased relatives if they do not remember them.