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Halloween and Day of The Dead: The Unique Difference

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Culture is a unique thing that we all have. It separates human beings from their customs to their beliefs, ideas, morals, characteristics, and values. Thinking back to my younger years like middle school and high school, I had a lot of Mexican friends or multicultural friends as most people would say. I’ll always remember the stuff that my friends would always talk about such as the Holidays they celebrate and how they celebrate them in different ways. To me, it was always amusing and always cool to get that experience somewhat from a different point of view and going to understand it in their ways. I always saw holidays as just another holiday but understanding someone else’s point of view of how their culture celebrates is beautiful because it is a tradition to them.

In high school, I was associated with a lot of multicultural friends most of them being Mexican. They would always talk about how they couldn’t wait for The Day of the Dead to celebrate the passing of their ancestors on a spiritual level. Hearing this from a lot of my friends was new to me, specially because I didn’t know a lot about their culture and how they celebrate different things throughout the year. I was also thinking its just a different Halloween for them but back then when I didn’t understand a lot about the holiday day of the dead. I would always compare it to America’s Halloween thinking that they really similar and the same. I would remember my friend getting upset at me when I would say “ain’t this the same as Halloween?” but he knew I didn’t really understand it like he did because of our backgrounds of where we come from. So, he took me on trip, and on the 31st of October to November 2, that’s when it starts and ends. He did that so I would get the full experience. He taught me a lot about what his family does for The Day of the Dead. On those days we sometimes visit the Cemetery to leave food offerings and to embrace the passing of our ancestors and we sometimes danced as another way of honoring our past ancestors. I was taught that Mexicans embrace death and celebrate the disease for the time they live. It wasn’t something they would just do to celebrate their ancestors; it was also a spiritual connection they would get. When he would give me examples about the celebration, he would relate it to the movie “Coco” to give me some clear examples. I remember watching it a long time ago in class because it was a part of our downtime in Spanish class. The movie was giving me these examples of the families going up to the graves of passed loved ones with handmade candles, food, and all this other stuff and the ancestors were standing there with their family in friends like they were there alive and well they were there. Families would make a lot of homemade stuff like necklaces or clothing because they believe that the ancestors would get this as a gift.

In America, Halloween centers on the grisly or scary themes of death and the deceased, while the Day of the Dead is a remembrance of their lives, a joyful time to celebrate and recognize loved ones who have passed on. It’s an entirely different holiday from what I thought to what I’ve learned now. There would be people dressing up in these bright colors with face paint as well as them dancing, singing, and just enjoying their times in a spiritual way while embracing their ancestors. With America’s Halloween, you have people dressing up as demonic entities scaring and frightening people. there is no meaning to Halloween for Americans but getting a good to frighten. When it comes to The Day of the Dead, it’s a whole different celebration of embracement. We as Americans would maybe mistake that as Halloween just because of the face paint and the different types of clothing that families would have on but this is only a different tradition that they use differently than what we see with the naked eye.

When kids dress up and go trick or treating in the USA, altars are erected all over the world in Mexico, both in public areas and in houses. Such altars are decorated with portraits of dead loved ones surrounded by roses, the beloved food, and drink of the deceased, and candles.

The food and drink are meant to give the deceased enough energy to make the return trip to the underworld and the candles are to illuminate their way. These things have purpose and significance. It was never just a holiday to the Mexican culture; it was always a celebration.

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