One is Spiritual and the other one is Soulful!
Despite being neighbors to Mexico, several Americans who don’t have the slightest idea about Dia de los Muertos (Day
of the Dead). Those who are aware of this day often confuse it with “Mexican Halloween”,
which is actually not the case!
While Day of the Dead and Halloween do share some
common origins, they are entirely different holidays.
So, if you’re one of those who are mistaken about
these holidays, and are curious to know more about the dangerous night separately, this article is for you!
First and foremost, Day of the Dead is not a Mexican
version of “Halloween.” Halloween is celebrated only on 31st October
night, however, the Day of the Dead is indeed a three-day festival starting
from 31st October to November 2nd.
Here’s the detailed explanation:
Day of the
To remember the dead family members and friends.
Halloween: A celebration of the afterlife and the
survival after death. The literal meaning of Halloween is ‘The night Before All
Hallows’ (also known as All Saints’ Day).
Day of the
This festival has its roots in indigenous cultures in Mexico of about 2500 to
3500 years ago. They used to hold rituals celebrating the deaths of their
ancestors. It was originally held in the ninth month of Aztec calendar and
lasted for the whole month.
Halloween: This festival originated from pagans, and
often connected to the Celtic festival Samhain when the “door” to the
Otherworld is believed to be opened so that the departed souls can revisit
their loved ones. It is also inspired by Christian All Saints Day, which honors
saints and the ones who are recently departed.
Here you can see a detailed history about Halloween:
While both of the holidays sound spooky in nature,
they are also celebrated in different ways.
The Day of the Dead is celebrated by remembering
friends and family members who have passed away. It doesn’t mean that they
mourn the dead; in fact, the atmosphere is quite lively and fun-filled, as Mexicans
have a very different view of death; they embrace it and celebrate the dead for
the time they have lived.
Here’s how they celebrate the Day of the Dead:
Day of the Dead is observed as a national holiday
in Mexico. On this day, people visit cemeteries, drink and eat food for the
deceased, and place the photos of their dead family members with the belief
that they would visit them on this day.
If you have seen the Disney movie “Coco”, you’d
know the Mexicans’ beliefs regarding this day. And if you haven’t, what have
you been doing all these years? Go and watch it because it’s entertaining and
you’ll learn a lot about this festival.
Halloween: Both children and adults indulge in Halloween celebration. They dress up in different costumes, indulge in activities like
trick-or-treating, and attend/hold parties. Halloween costumes originally used
to be spooky and frightening, but with changing times, the themes changed and
so did the costumes.
The Day of the Dead is commonly indicated by a
skull. You’ll see people dressing up as a skeleton or wearing skull masks on
the streets. They also exchange sugar skulls as gifts.
Halloween is widely denoted by pumpkins.
Sometimes, Halloween is also represented by vampires, ghosts, zombies, mummies,
and all things spooky.
As we have mentioned earlier, Mexicans have a very
different idea about death. Instead of mourning, they honor death with
celebrations, music, and food.
Octavio Paz, The Nobel Laureate, beautifully
explains the difference between the beliefs of death in the United States and
Mexico in his famous 1950 book “The Labyrinth of Solitude”.
word death is not pronounced in New York, in Paris, in London, because it burns
the lips. The Mexican, in contrast, is familiar with death, jokes about it,
caresses it, sleeps with it, celebrates it; it is one of his favorite toys and
his most steadfast love.
natural, even desirable, to die, and the sooner the better. We kill because
life —our own or another’s — is of no value. Life and death are inseparable,
and when the former lacks meaning, the latter becomes equally meaningless.
Mexican death is the mirror of Mexican life.”
So, the next time you visit Mexico in the
month of October, stay a bit longer and observe the Day of the Dead and its related festivals. We’re
pretty sure, you’ll have more fun here than Halloween.