WHAT IS HALLOWEEN?
Today, we look at some of the differences and similarities between Halloween and Day of the Dead. There is fun and beauty in each!
A LITTLE HISTORY
If you throw it way back, like 8th century back. We find the Ancient Celts had a festival known as Samhain. Pronounced sow-win. This Celtic Tradition was to welcome the harvest and usher in the dark half of the year. This was also a time they believed the barrier between the physical world and the spirit world broke down for interactions between humans and denizens.
Later this would become all Saints day as religion took over the pagan rituals.
While some cultures still believe that our ancestors and spirits come to visit during this time, as the Mexican Day of The Dead, American culture has all but forgotten about the harvest, ancestors and spirits. Halloween has evolved into a more festive time of trick or treating, carnivals, and bobbing for apples.
I like the idea of ushering in the dark half of the year, much like the winter solstice with bonfires, and three days of merry making. Welcoming spirits and ancestors home.
Growing up in a mixed household meant a celebration for both Halloween and Dia De Los Muertos. As a kid, Halloween is filled with fun costumes and as much candy as you and your friends could collect. We would all put our costumes on and prepare for our big night of trick or treating. It felt more of a time to let loose as a kid and run around with your friends.
The next day, my mom and I would begin preparation for the Day of the Dead. We would move a table to the entryway of our home and dig up all the old photos of our family and set them out. My sister and I would decorate sugar skulls and hang all the papel picado. We would light candles and set out some offerings for the loved ones that passed. Not to say it was a sad day, it was more of a meaningful celebration. Even as a little kid, you realize that it is something more, a celebration of life and loved ones. A somewhat stark difference to the days prior and trick or treating, but at the same time, still surrounded by people you care about.
While both holidays may be considered “spooky,” Halloween revolves around darkness, death, ghosts, witches, candy, and costumes. On the other hand, Day of the Dead is explicitly about the afterlife and remembrance. The skulls symbolize the continuation of memories and of life. It is a sacred time for families as it gives them peace and reassurance.
Learn more here