The Otherworldy Thrills of a Scary Night at the Samaín Sarao

Galicians say that “meigas [witches] don’t exist… and yet they do, they certainly do!” Especially if you know where to look for them as the last night of October arrives in those enchanted lands. It’s Halloween, and in the seafaring city of Vigo they know how to celebrate the traditional encounter between the living and those spectral entities from the great beyond. But be aware that they don’t like their festivities narrowly defined by the “Halloween” label.

The festival of Samaín – which is its traditional name – has bonfires, pumpkins, pumpkins everywhere and its own meigas – good witches with a Galician accent – but this is not due to foreign influence; this region has its own traditions with many, many years of history. As they say, “this is Samaín, not Halloween.” And because this celebration has so much tradition behind it, it’s understandable that they want to protect it at all costs from American influence. Of course, anyone who is willing to enjoy the magic of October 31st is welcome in any of the celebrations that are held that night in the always mysterious city of Vigo.

The special events planned for an eerie night of Samaín in the different neighborhoods of the city include workshops, “theme” markets, and many other activities designed to experience a truly otherworldly feast of the dead. And for those who prefer to celebrate in style, a great option is to navigate the Vigo estuary while tasting culinary delights and later continuing the sarao [party] under the dim light of the chandeliers.

Enveloped in the aroma of roasted chestnuts, don’t be surprised to find yourself in the streets – especially in the old town – surrounded by a multitude of walking spirits with their smoking torches at night. It’s the night of Samaín in Vigo and nobody wants to be the first to go to bed. Will you stay until sunrise to say goodbye to those from beyond?

Photo | antonioxalonso