Brazilians do not go trick-or-treating the conventional way. They
celebrate child-buffet style. Some
people in Brazil, however,
have started to do like the Americans in their apartment buildings
and complexes. A friend of mine sent her children out
trick-or-treating and they came back with
very interesting loot.
Brazilians never celebrated anything on October 31, but little by little, they are jumping on the bandwagon.
Halloween is a non-religious autumn celebration with pumpkins and witches, and it has started to share space with the Brazilian
springtime spiritual rituals, Dia de Todos os Santos (All Saints Day) and Finados (Day of the Departed). Both holidays are
serious catholic holidays with candles, crying and emotion. Halloween, on the other hand, replaces these with feasting and pranks.
Brazilians are natural partiers, but the catholic traditions always kept Brazilians from celebrating the arrival of
November with the same happiness enjoyed in Carnaval times. Mexican tradition allows for this type of carrying on, since they
have made Dia de los Muertos (Day of the Dead) their most celebrated holiday.
Watching them mix the macabre with a Carnaval feeling is awe-inspiring. Their Mayan and Aztec roots give way to
an incredible comfort level with death, allowing them to enjoy eating foods in the shape of skulls. Every November
2nd, Mexicans creep tourists out by their displays of skeletons and death. In the interior of Mexico, there is still the belief that
celebrating the dead will bring rain, better crops and increased fertility, and of course, good luck.
With such tradition, Mexicans should really downplay Halloween, since they also have pranks associated with their
Day of the Dead festival, when young adults steal fruit, flowers and corn on the evening of November
1st, honoring all the saints. Witches on broomsticks don’t mean anything in Mexico. They didn’t mean anything here, either, except in Maranhão,
where for some odd reason some celebrate Nossa Senhora da Vassoura (Our Lady of the Broom), who wipes the bad away
with a broom. Well, the rest of Brazil is accepting the traditions of All Hallow’s Eve, on the night before November
1st, October 31st.
2,500 years ago, the Celts who lived in Ireland and the British Isles celebrated the end of summer. They had a type
of fire festival, lighting fires at the tops of mountains to dispel the evil spirits. They believed that on that date, the dead
revisited their old homes as a horde of ghosts, witches, gnomes and other supernatural beings. To confuse them, the Celts went
out at night carrying turnips sculpted with human faces with a candle lit inside called a jack-o’-lantern.
Halloween was brought to America by Irish and Scottish immigrants. The turnip was exchanged for the pumpkin,
which didn’t exist in Europe. As time went by, Halloween lost its religious roots and became a childish celebration. There is a
sect of people who still take Halloween seriously, who call themselves Neopagan, and fundamental Christians are against
One group who is against this party is called the Satanic Panic-ers. They distribute pamphlets and have a comic book
called Spellbound. In it, Halloween is described as a satanic ritual where children eat poisonous candies and are kidnapped
and sacrificed so that their fat can be used to make the candles that go in the jack-o’-lantern, and so on.
Not even the Celts had devils or deities connected to death in their beliefs. There is no proof that the Celts harmed
or killed people other than those who committed crimes and sometimes prisoners of war. Sacrifices, inquisitions and
pogroms were, as the Vatican itself shamefully admits, Christian inventions. Another fallacy: the Celts never saw a pumpkin, and
they knew that human fat is not a good ingredient to make candles.
Halloween doesn’t harm anyone. Unicef has been collecting funds for its programs to help children worldwide on
Halloween. Each year, hundreds of Neopagans get together on Halloween, dress in green, and meet to donate blood and food to the
needy. They also clean parks and take flowers to hospitals and old-folks homes. Why don’t we join in and celebrate Halloween
and this type of witchcraft?
Brazilians do not go trick-or-treating the conventional way (they celebrate child-buffet style), but some have started
to do so in their apartment buildings and complexes. A friend of mine sent her children out trick-or-treating without notice,
and she came back with very interesting loot (whatever the resident could come up with…)
If you are interested in trick-or-treating in your building, I recommend you talk to the
síndico (manager) and get permission to advertise the event, asking those who want to participate to hang something on their door. Choose an early time
for young trick-or-treaters and a later time for the older ones! Believe me, the Brazilians will join in on the fun.
Roughly translated from an article by Sérgio Augusto, a journalist from
O Estado de S. Paulo.
Monica O’Day Trentini was born in the US but raised in Brazil. She attended American Schools and
eventually went to The University of Virginia, where she graduated with a Master’s in Teaching. She married a Brazilian
and moved to São Paulo. She left teaching to raise her children and started a business making and selling home-made
cookie dough and baked cookies to people. She delivers cookies in São Paulo, but orders have come from as far as
Arizona! She currently has her articles published at
www.gringoes.com and in The Flash, a printed newsletter for The
International Newcomers’ Club in São Paulo. Monica’s e-mail is
firstname.lastname@example.org, and she welcomes
your responses to her articles, as well as your cookie orders!
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