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What costume should you wear in a Spanish Halloween

As you all know, the celebration of Halloween in Spain is accompanied every year by the same controversy: that it is an “imported” celebration, that we are forgetting the Spanish traditions in order to focus on having fun, that the eve of all saints day is a night of devotion and not of celebration… We are not going to dig further into polemics, for we already did last year.

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This year we want to give you a solution to one of this controversy. It is a modest one, but we like to think of it as equitable. Why not attend our friends’, schoolmates’ or workmates’ Halloween party dressed up as genuinely Spanish monsters? At the editorial team we have made a selection, and here are some proposals:

La Santa Compaña (The Holy Company): according to the Galician mythology, it is “the procession of the dead, which comes to take the living away”. Its description varies, but it is usually represented as a retinue of deadly and cadaverous figures wrapped up in shrouds that carry candles in their hands, leaded by a doomed living person that carries a bone, a cross or a cauldron. An ideal and simple costume (some tunics or bed sheets will do) if you are partying as a group.

Lobisome: this is even simpler, for a Lobisome is a Galician werewolf. So a mask will do, together with hairy gloves and whatever object you might find associated with werewolves. At the editorial staff we have heard the proposal to add to it a football t-shirt of the local Galician teams (Celta de Vigo or Deportivo de La Coruña), the traditional Galician costume, a St. James Way pilgrim tunic or a bagpipe under your arm.

Meiga: the Galician witch costume is a little bit like the lobisome’s, the good thing is that a traditional witch costume is enough, but how do you add to it a specific Galician detail? Some say that using the broomstick as a flagpole for the Galician flag; others say that it would be enough with getting into the character and putting on a Galician accent.

Hombre del saco (The Sack Man): The sack man is a Spanish child-frightening figure that wanders the streets in the middle of the night searching for children, with evil intentions. The name itself indicated a “must-have” accessory: a sack. But it has to be one that’s made of sacking, which can be found in fruit stores and other establishments. About the clothes: feel free, it all depends on whether you want to be a contemporary or more classic sack man.

Lavandera (Washerwoman): halfway through a ghost, a zombie and a mermaid, the lavanderas (washerwomen) would be something like the spirits of the women who died while giving birth or let their children die unbaptized. They wash the blood stained clothes in the river banks while they intonate terrifying chants. For this costume it would be enough with a simple white tunic, a terrifying make-up and, most important, one of those old washing boards. The horrific chants are optional.

Spanish Vampire: we couldn’t miss the ever-effective and elegant resource of “vampirizing” any costume adding a set of sharp canine teeth to it.
About “spanishing” the costume there are many options: you can be a bullfighter vampire, a “Guardia Civil” (a federal military-status spanish police force) vampire, a flamenco vampire… This last one has a funny addition: according to some scholars, the undead of the South of Spain would have developed immunity to garlic due to the liking of their Andalusian victims to eat gazpacho, which includes garlic as one of its main ingredients! (It is not a joke, some books assert this theory).

La Santa Compaña

Conde Estruch (Count Estruch): Let’s say that it is a type of Spanish vampire for those that know the legends of our country. He was a Catalan nobleman who, due to his libertine lifestyle, turned into a luxurious blood-thirsty demon around 1773. In this case it would be enough with a medieval courtesan or knight costume together with the canine teeth. How could we make clear that he is a Catalan vampire? Maybe a badge with the senyera (the Catalan flag)…

Gruñu: take one of the nazgûls from “The Lord of the Rings” and mix it with a “dementor” from Harry Potter’s saga and you will have a Gruñu: a dark presence in black clothes that seems to be made of shadows, has a terrifying and cavernous voice and fills the travellers with an irrational fear. You can create this costume with a black hooded cloak. In this case, it is easy to avoid the previous “models”: don’t wear a sword or get close to the one dressed up as the teen wizard.

Diablo Cojuelo (The lame devil): one could say that the story of this mocking devil is, to some extent, endearing. He was the first of the celestial beings to be sent to hell, but he didn’t have enough time to get back up on his feet, and the rest of the angels fell on his leg. You know now what you will need if you want to dress up as him: a pair of horns, red makeup, a cane… and a fake limp for the rest of the night!

Tragaldabas: it is a Castilian ogre known for his infinite gluttony and his elastic stomach that holds a whole army in it. There are no descriptions of him, but it is evident that he must have quite a large tummy. In any case, whatever you wear, we suggest that you say that you are disguised as him to justify the fact that you won’t move away from the appetizers’ table.

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The list is long, but it could be even longer. So we suggest that you find a book on Spanish monsters or check out the web for them. You will surely find more than one idea that will help you have a very Spanish Halloween.

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