As is the case throughout most of Spain, the Campo de Gibraltar has experienced an unusual Hallwoeen and “Todos los Santos” (“Tosantos”) this 2020; marked by the fear of Covid19. Big events have been cancelled, police surveillance was reinforced and a curfew has left the streets desolate at night.
Every year, between October 31st and November 1st, debate breaks out in Spain between those who celebrate Halloween (an Anglo-Saxon tradition that is becoming increasingly popular in Spain, especially among children and teens) and those who celebrate “Tosantos”. Tosantos is a Spanish tradition which is celebrated with chestnuts stands and others selling dry fruit, colourful night-time market stalls and visits to cemeteries decorated with flowers.
But this year, both traditions were decaffeinated by the hygiene and social distancing regulations imposed by authotities in Spain in a bid to cope with an increase of Covid-19 cases.
Even the cemetery visits this year were subjected to the new sanitary regulations, with extended opening hours to avoid crowding, staggered entry and exit, reduced capacity and limits on the amount of time you could spend among the graves, tombs and mausoleums.
Despite this, different municipalities in the region that entered into the level 3 of the Spanish ‘State of Alarm’, did host some activities for the little ones this Tosantos. The aim was also to help support local businesses which had been especially affected by the socio-economic crisis caused by Covid19 lockdown measures.
The usual Saturday Los Barrios street market was transformed into an artisanal and food market for Tosantos; following the anti-Covid hygiene and sanitary measures. The stalls in the town centre were allowed to open that Saturday up until 10:30 PM; which is the cut off time established by Spanish health advisors.
That same Saturday, the Villa public library was the home to two children’s story time events called “Chilling Halloween Sessions”, one at 5:30 PM and another at 7 PM. A Halloween story telling session was also held at the José Riquelme library in La Línea at 5:30 PM, with games and surprises for the little ones, who came dressed up in costumes.
Due to announcement of the curfew, the drive-through cinema screenings that had been organised for Friday 30th at 10:30 PM in Los Barrios, which had intended to screen “Joker” by popular demand, was cancelled.
Unfortunately, the traditional “houses of terror”, parades and other Halloween activities for children and young people, which had been organised by the San Roque Events Department, at the historic town centre, were also cancelled by the Junta due to the State of Alarm.
The Algeciras Market Minus its Traditional Tosantos Night Celebrations
The Municipality of Algeciras together with market stall owners had decided, weeks before the announcement of the State of Alarm, to cancel Tosantos Night celebrations.
Tosantos Night is a traditional celebration, rooted in the city around the Ingeniero Torroja market, which would have seen a massive street party which in recent years has outstripped other similar celebrations, despite the rise in popularity of Halloween in Spain.
In its place, with the aim of hosting an event that could at least support small and medium businesses and local hotels, the City Council and the Apymel (small business) association held its first “Tosantos Gastronomic Day”, which saw around 20 bars and restaurants taking part between October 30 – November 2. Traditional dishes of Algeciras using seasonal produce were available.
People were also encouraged to buy food at the market stalls, where they were given bags of nuts as a thank you for supporting local business.
According to a press release by the Junta of Algeciras, the tradition of Tosantos began at the end of the 18th century in an area which is today known as “Castelar” street. A street “which was most easily accessible for brining products from the orchards located near the Río de La Miel.”
Most of the products on sale came from outside the city walls, so “people would arrive in large numbers to browse this merchandise, which could not be found at other times of the year.”
Sergio Pelayo, the Algeciras Councilor for Markets, pointed out that, with the passage of time, the tradition not only remained, but grew larger and was passed down from parents to their children, generation after generation, until it became a somewhat mandatory celebration for thousands of citizens of Algeciras. This year, however, it was just not possible.