Halloween in Sao Paulo

Yes, I know I’ve been terribly negligent about my blog in past weeks. However, in my own defense, I have been through a Halloween party – moving to another neighborhood – birthday part sandwich that took up all my free time. All experiences I’ll be documenting here… but first, Halloween.

Halloween is not a Brazilian holiday. For those of you who are considering a move to Brazil, this is something to ponder if you, like me, have a particular fondness for the celebration of all that is creepy and scary and like getting yourself and your offspring dressed up in costumes. However, if you are moving to the city of Sao Paulo, it looks like things are looking up.

As my friend Ray and I discovered, Halloween has come to town. Walking the lanes of the infamous 25 de Março area just a few days prior to the holiday, we discovered that nearly every other shop was loaded up with Halloween goods – everything from candy eyeballs to a variety of costumes and all the necessary decorations needed in between. Hooray!

But the question remains for those internationals accustomed to a certain standard of Halloween holiday activity – what to do on the day? After piling on the horror gear, how does one celebrate in a land where trick-or-treating on the streets might get you in a bit of trouble?

There are options. Some schools, especially the international ones, do offer activities. However, my daughter’s Brazilian school does not – apparently some parents were concerned about “witchcraft” aspect of the events. (This, in a country whose oldest known religion, Candomblé, involves people being possessed by the dead… but whatever. Also see Who Do Voodoo? and Another Offering) The American Society of Sao Paulo puts on an annual Halloween Party with games and lots of candy. You also might find some community parties if you live in a gated condominium where the real monsters are safely kept out. Or, you can get a pile of internationals together and have your own gathering. Which is what we did.

Not wanting to deny our small ones the opportunity to engage in their own cultural celebration, a friend and I orchestrated a Halloween Playdate – complete with treats and games. While a crowd of kids let loose in costumes and filled with sugar turned out to be a bit chaotic, it was still a good time.

Little did we know during the planning process that 25 de Março was full of Halloween stuff, so most of what we had was either brought from the U.S. or constructed in our kitchens and on our dining room tables. (The rolls of toilet paper were not in preparation for what running in circles with a tummy full of candy and cupcakes might do to a child, but for a mummy wrap contest.)

So while you may have to create your own Halloween activities (in past years we actually even organized trick-or-treating in an apartment complex) you can now get your goods on the streets of Sao Paulo. Oh, but beware… this is what Rua 25 de Março looks like on a Saturday close to Halloween (maybe every Saturday, not sure)…

And I did see someone who had been shot in the head that day, so if you embark upon this adventure, stay safe.

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16 Responses to Halloween in Sao Paulo

  1. My kids had trick or treating at the American school where they went from classroom to classroom, but I was soooo disappointed when they each only came home with five pieces of candy (one from each grade) – no bags filled with Halloween candy for me to raid this year 😦

    On another note – Are those Oreos in the pumpkin bowl??? I am so craving one now thanks to your picture!

    • Five piece of candy?! Outrage! Especially considering I ate all my daughter’s Twizzlers from her bag while she was sleeping off her sugar coma. HA.
      Yes, those are Halloween Oreos. Imported into the country. Dreamy…

  2. Andrew Francis says:

    I think you’ll find that 25 de Marco looks like that pretty much every day. Great bargains but it comes at a personal cost if you’re like me and don’t enjoy the shopping equivalent of a mosh pit with bad music.

  3. Shelley says:

    My son dressed up like a zombie at the Canadian school, and they did trick or treating there. They actually went to different classrooms and got LOTS of candy. The thing I find interesting is that most Brazilians think of Halloween as a ghoul/ghost/witch/scary holiday, so most of the costumes (if kids do dress up) are of those genre. They don’t do creative/unusual/homemade costumes, which are my favorites.

  4. Alex says:

    Looks like a fun time!

    And 25 de Março looks a little scary. Good for Halloween.

    Ooooh we have to throw a 4th of July party somewhere!


  5. Sarah says:

    Great work on the Hallowe’en commemorations! Glad you’re blogging again!

    I organized trick or treating in our building (on the 1st instead of the 31st, but no one minded….) It consisted of me buying a huge amount of candy and leaving it with a few friends who I knew would be into Hallowe’en shenanigans. …Almost all the kids put together last-minute costumes and some even learned to say “trick or treat” instead of “doce ou travessura”….I told them that REAL trick or treating involves carrying pillowcases (to fit all the candy – or was that just my family?) and trudging through snow in costumes that had to be made to fit over snowsuits (again, maybe that was just my experience….probably not universal!) and that you can dress up as ANYTHING you want, not just witches and zombies. Not sure if they believed me, but it was fun all around.

    • I totally remember using a pillow case for trick-or-treating! Wow – we must have anticipated a lot of loot. And I do remember a couple snowy Halloweens too. Sounds like you are leading the Halloween efforts there – good work!

  6. Ray says:

    Dear B.A.B,

    I had a great time venturing into 25 de Marco with you! It was very interesting to see how main stream Halloween has become in Sao Paulo. I remember later that afternoon seeing a group of teenagers dressed up for a Halloween party at a bus stop, that is when I realized it’s no longer a party happening in English language schools or American Schools, it has taken over, and Brazilians love any excuse for parties.
    I think Brazilians will keep Halloween scary, as originally designed, otherwise we wouldn’t know the difference between Carnaval and Halloween, after all, the explanation we got was that the witches and bad spirits are running loose on and around Halloween so we need to dress scary to keep them away… 😉
    Yeap, Brazilians didn’t get the memo on homemade costumes yet, jeez, did you notice the selection on 25 de Marco. I am still amazed.
    Ironically enough, I wouldn’t know any place in the US to find all those fun things… 🙂
    Looking forward to sharing another Mortadela Sandwich with you on my next time in Brazil, hopefully for good, and please keep me away from the R$30,00 Tangerines!!! 😉



    • Oh yum. I actually got a Mortadela sandwich at another place and it just wasn’t the same. 😦 Come back so we can indulge together!
      You have a good point – in the US we don’t really have another holiday where we get to use costumes, so sticking to theme here would make sense. Although I did notice in some of the shops we went to the stores were also pushing Carnaval gear! Whatever makes a buck!

  7. Ray says:

    I hear you, I don’t know what they do at the Mercado, their Mortadela sandwiches are just great.
    You are very good with details, I was going to mention that those stores do sell Carnaval stuff during other months of the year and they must be thrilled to have one more season to sell costumes. I just love Halloween and I am glad it’s catching on in Sao Paulo. 😉


  8. Pingback: What to Expect for Your Foreign Thanksgiving | born again brazilian

  9. Pingback: What to Expect for Your Foreign Thanksgiving | born again brazilian

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