Across much of the Latin world, November 1st is a massive occasion.
In Spain, Día de Todos los Santos (or All Saints’ Day in English) directly follows Halloween and is a public holiday across the country.
It’s a day when families and individuals remember those who have died – and the occasion is marked in many different ways.
Celebrating Día de Todos los Santos in Malaga
Typically, Día de Todos los Santos in Malaga is marked by cemeteries filling up with those who wish to pay a visit to their loved ones’ final resting places.
In some cases, especially if the person has recently died, or they died in sudden or tragic circumstances, families will spend many days in the build-up preparing the niche for visitors.
This could involve cleaning it, giving it a fresh lick of paint, placing candles or laying new flowers. In fact, you won’t fail to notice that florists are particularly busy at this time of year!
On the day itself, you may also see people eating sweet cakes and treats (namely borrachuelos, buñuelos and huesos de santos) in the cemetery. This is because it’s believed that each one eaten would save a soul from purgatory.
To experience these festivities in Malaga first-hand, the historic Cementerio San Miguel (pictured above) is definitely worth a visit. As is the English Cemetery, located close to La Malagueta bullring.
Similarities to Día de los Muertos
While Día de Todos los Santos in Spain and Día de los Muertos in Mexico (and other Latin countries) have many similarities (both observed in early November and both honour the deceased), they also have distinct cultural and religious backgrounds.
Día de los Muertos in Mexico is a vibrant and festive celebration that blends indigenous Aztec customs with Catholicism. Families create colourful altars, decorate graves, and use iconic figures like ‘La Catrina’ to represent death.
In contrast, Día de Todos los Santos in Spain is a more somber and religious holiday focused on honouring all saints and is marked by visiting cemeteries and offering flowers and prayers at the graves of loved ones.
Daryl moved to Malaga permanently in 2014 having first fallen in love with the city on his Erasmus year. After working for many years at local expat newspaper SUR in English, Daryl gained expert knowledge in life from the perspective of foreign residents and decided to co-found Malaga Guru in 2016.