Halloween in Chile

October 31, 2015

“Tienes….ummmmm…..un noche con…candies… en las casas?”

We had been here about 1 week, my Spanish, was, well you can see what it was, and I was talking to Maddie’s very first friend (and continued good friend), Magdalena. 

Magda just looks at me with an amused expression on her face, likely getting a kick out of this new gringa neighbor and her wild attempt at Spanish.

“Um, okay.  You know….do you have, er, I mean, tienes un noche con ‘booooooo!!!!'” and I do my best to make a scary, monster face.

Magda giggles.

I throw my hands up and glance at Tom, who is assembling some things in the bodega.  With his fluent Spanish, he could easily find the answer I’m seeking. However, in this adventure, he has felt it important that he not be my crutch.

In the beginning, SO frustrating!

Now, SO thankful. ❤

But sometimes, I still needed a bone.

“Tom, how do you say witches?”


“Okay, how do you say ghosts…”

“Fantasmas.”  I heard him chuckling, surely amused at the fact that I even cared about this fact in February.

I turn back to Magda.  “Okay.  Tienes un noche de brujas and…y…..fantasmas? En Octubre?

She breaks into hysterical laughter…..

“Como, Halloween??” She giggles…..”Siiiiiiii, siiiiiiii….tenemos Halloween!” and she smiles at me once again as Maddie is dragging her away to play at the park, enchanted with her new friend and seemingly uncaring whether there is actually a Halloween or not.

I watch them run to the park, relieved at what felt like the first good news we had heard in a few days.

How nice it will be for the kids to have a holiday that reminds them of home…hopefully it will help it feel more like home.

And how could I not think to use the word “Halloween”?

So, as it turns out, Chile celebrates Halloween, on October 31, just as we do in the United States.   I understand that it arrived in Chile with the expat community, and within the last decade has become a highly anticipated and celebrated day of the year.  Come early October, the party shops and grocery stores pack their front entrance displays with Halloween inspired candy, decorations and costumes.


Halloween is still new enough that not everyone quite knows how to spell it yet…


The children dress for Halloween parades at school, and trick or treat Halloween night.

There are only a few minor differences:

1)The candy handed out it typically fruit flavored and smaller in size.

2)Instead of trick or treat, the children say “Dulce o Travesura.”

3)And orange pumpkins are REALLY hard to come by.  More on that later. 

Our first Halloween here, we simply “dulce o travesura’ed” as a family in our neighborhood.  Following that, I began to hear occasional commentary from the other mothers of Maddie’s classmates that we live in one of the best neighborhoods for celebrating Halloween.

And so this year, we invited all of Maddie’s classmates and their families to celebrate Halloween night with us at our house.

And we were so excited about it!

In my quest for going all out on the Halloween decor, a Jack-O-Lantern was obviously at the top of the list.

The problem is, in Chile they don’t sell orange pumpkins…or “zappallos.”  They only sell gray ones.  From one store to the next I searched, high and low, only to be consistently met  with disappointment.

Then one fateful day, 2 days before Halloween, when I was past the point of looking any longer, I stumbled upon two, orange pumpkins in the produce section of a supermarket. It was like the light of heaven was shining down on them.

Could not believe my eyes.

There were two!

I only bought one, certain that there had to be at least one other person in Valdivia that would be sharing in my quest, and excitedly walked up to the check-out.

“Que es este?” (What is this?) the young cashier asked me, turning the pumpkin around and around, examining its every inch, clearly intrigued by this foreign object.

“Para comer?” (For eating?) she glanced up, confused.

“No, para Halloweeeeeen” I smiled, pointing at the Halloween aisle behind her.

“Ahhhhhh, siiiii!” Her eyes brightened up.

“Bacan!” (Cool!) remarked the bag boy.

“Gracias!” I smiled, excited to get home to the kiddos with probably the most exciting find of the year.

It’s the small things people, I swear. 

When I came home that afternoon with my one, medium-sized pumpkin, I was met with very jubilant little pun’kins.

But that was only the beginning of the fun.  Once it was actually carved by Maddie and Greyson and placed out front, we were suddenly the recipients of doorbell rings by the children of the neighborhood, stopping by to ooooh and awe over it, asking where they might be able to find one.    336

Too much fun. ❤

Oddly enough, I saw more in the supermarket after Halloween. They must not have sold, even despite the supermarket’s best efforts at artistically trying to reveal what their purpose was!


The supermarket must have assumed painting the face on them would reveal their purpose…

In any event, the Halloween party turned out to be a blast.  With a fantastic turn-out, we shared in food, good conversation, a lengthy “Dulce o Travesuring” excursion, and later some fun and games.



And I gotta say, who wouldn’t love trick or treating and playing outside in 70 degree weather in the light? (Hand raised!)

So, now two years following my initial conversation with Magda, and in retrospect, it is true.

It is true that something about having a holiday that reminds us of home also makes Chile feel more like a home itself.

But this last year we realized, it was not just that.  That alone wouldn’t have been enough.

More importantly, it was that we were able to celebrate with a group of children and families that we have grown to absolutely adore over the past couple of years.

A group of friends that, through now countless, daily memories and experiences, have slowly woven themselves into the very fabric of our hearts.

Sure we came home with bags full of all kinds of sweets this past year.

But for us, the reality was, our friends were what made it such a treat.

Or should I say… “dulce.”








3 thoughts on “Halloween in Chile

  1. I can echo your problems of finding orange pumpkins in South America! Halloween hasn’t really caught on in northern Argentina at all. They had a single little witch and ghost cut out over the normal candy. They’re much more into Easter with the HUGE chocolate Easter eggs! Thanks so much for sharing your story!

  2. I laughed out loud through so many parts of this blog & again, it SO reminded me of our years in MX. Halloween is celebrated among Mexican children who wear costumes when they go trick-or-treating to people’s homes asking for candy. When they trick-or-treat @ ea/ door they shout “Queremos Halloween”. The pumpkin carving never really caught on because the majority of homes are surrounded by tall walls & a gate. (If placed outside the gates, trust me, they’d be stolen). Funny what ea/ country decides to adopt, right? The kids (especially yours) looked like they had a blast. I predict Halloween will be a party @ the Chilean Tritt’s house again this year!😄👍🏼👍🏼

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