I've discovered you can learn alot about your own culture by living in a different one. For example, I honestly cannot say that I knew the history of Halloween, the story of the Jack-O-Lantern, or any such things until I had to research the holiday to explain it to my students here in Ubrique. For the most part, Halloween is only celebrated in the United States and the United Kingdom, and was originally brought to the US by Irish immigrants in the mid 1800s. However, as the phenomenon of globalization continues to spread, it is being celebrated in more and more locations -- including Ubrique, Spain. Go figure.
I walked into school on October 31st wearing a lovely little costume. I was a "demonia" (a devil). Before you jump to conclusions, I would just like to point out that there are not a lot of costume options here, so you can't be picky. I walked in expecting a few of the English teachers to be dressed up, but to my surprise not only were a couple of teachers dressed up, but so were a vast number of students! We spent the day in classes listening to spooky Halloween music, drawing pumpkins and bats, talking about the history of Halloween, and reading scary stories. The second grade went around to every class and performed a dance to "The Monster Mash," and fourth grade went around giving out "dulces y caramelos" to their fellow students. The best news is that the celebration did not stop when school let out. Despite hours of cold rain, around 30 of my students came to my piso to trick-or-treat (or "truco o trato"). I guess that is one of the positive (or negative...) aspects to living on the plaza -- everyone knows where you live. My housemates and I were quite happy with the number of trick-or-treaters, and I'm happy to report that my students really seem to like this unusual holiday of ours. :-) Overall, it was a very happy Halloween!