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Halloween Festivities and Life Cycles in Valencia

Itโ€™s been a dark couple weeks in the news cycle, to say the least (hence me going full absurdist with my costume this year), but Halloween brought a few lighter opportunities to celebrate our favorite holiday abroad.

As compared with last year we noticed many more commercial decorations and costume options in the city center (where more expats live and play) as well as more family-friendly Halloween events on the calendar.

One was with hundreds of fellow expats at a second annual Expat Families Halloween Extravaganza in the Turia River park. Our friends organized a variety of games and activities (including debuting Chat GPT-powered Halloween storytelling: that’s gotta be a first!) and since every child participating had to contribute a bag of candy, there was plenty to go around.

We also went trick or treating โ€œEuropean city-styleโ€ with a large group of Spanish and expat friends from school. Halloween night trick or treating consists of visiting participating businesses and stationed volunteers giving out candy to thousands of kids in the Russafa neighborhood. As far as the candy selection goes, letโ€™s just say Dave was disappointed in the dearth of chocolate bar varieties on selection, and in one instance was shocked and appalled that someone was handing out Wertherโ€™s Originals to 4-year-olds. ๐Ÿ˜‚

Both of these impressive feats of organizing are due to the efforts of a few American expats in town. I suppose we take Halloween pretty seriously!

Finally, since November 1 (All Saints Day) is an observed holiday in Spain, Jacob’s class used the days leading up to Halloween to explore the changing of seasons over the course of the year and the life cycle through the symbolism of light (la luz) and dark (la oscuridad). Children were asked to wear dark-colored clothing and to bring in photos of loved ones no longer here with us. In preparation of this activity, we talked with Jacob about our collective memories what Jacob wanted to share with his class about his Papa. The class utilized concepts of light and darkness in their artwork, created ceramic star-shaped candle-holders for their (plastic) tea lights, shared stories about beloved people and pets no longer alive, and sang songs in their procession. I thought this was a beautiful and sensitive way to explore the natural cycle of life and death with young children.