The Differences and Similarities Between Día De Los Muertos and Halloween
Whatever the dead’s reason for coming back is, I don’t know: But it’s kind of creepy, to be honest.
Maybe our loved ones are checking to see how big our beer belly has grown since they last seen it or if we are still paying the minimum balance on our credit cards. Perhaps they’re just bored, and Heaven isn’t all it’s cracked up to be.
Which is why from Oct 31-Nov 2 those of Latin descent celebrate the lives of the dead by taking care of their graves, creating altars for them and honoring them. Someday too we will say bye-bye so it’s proper to pay respects.
In Mexico specifically, families clean and decorate gravesites of loved ones on Día De Los Muertos. The dead are also remembered with “ofrendas,” small personal altars honoring a person. Popular symbols of the holiday seen all over are Calacas y Calaveras (skeletons and skulls). They appear in candied sweets and are worn as mask in parades.
Día De Los Muertos correlates with the mandatory Catholic holiday All Saints Day (Nov 1-3) where families attend Mass and also pay respects to the gravesites of deceased loved ones.
In America, the spooky holiday filled with pumpkins, tricks, and treats is called Halloween and takes place on October 31. Typically, kids get dressed up and go door to door to get candy from people, while adults on the weekend get dressed up, go to bars and get shitfaced drunk for a wild night of strange fun. Women usually get a free pass on Halloween to dress up mucho sexy too.
The significant difference between the two holidays is that America’s version is more commercialized and superficial, like the over-friendliness of a used car salesman trying to hock you a 97’ Buick.
Halloween, however, has deep historical roots that go back thousands of years to a time when Celtic Europeans celebrated the harvest and had giant bonfires, participating in pagan rituals, while keeping away evil spirits.
While the Catholic Church is a willing participant in Latin cultures, Halloween is seen by many Christian churches in America as some demonic holiday where Satan runs around and tempts everyone to sin.
The major difference between Halloween and Día De Los Muertos is the homage paid to the dead, including the spirit of reverence towards loved ones. In Latin cultures everyone celebrates Día De Los Muertos with incredible bright colors, flowers, and artwork that decorates the cities and villages. Families show a respect and active belief that spirits are still vibrant, that the dead still serve a purpose.
In America, it’s all about getting free chocolate and dressing up for one night, without any relation to the dead or a spiritual significance.
Both cultures like to play dress up during these two holidays. So, who will you be for Día De Los Muertos/Halloween? You could be anything you want: Shakira, Frida Khalo, Pablo Picasso, or Pitbull for a night! Maybe someone else!
If you take Spanish lessons at Kasa De Franko, then you’ll have the perfect conversational dialogue to go with your outfit. You can even go to bars and clubs most attended by Latino people and be quite the popular individual!
Just be careful to not get on any ghost’s bad side…or else you might become one yourself!
Don’t just speak Spanish! Think in Spanish!