As you all know, October 31 is the day Halloween is celebrated. My memories of Halloween consist of a night of ‘trick-or-treat’ing, costumes, make-up, masks, pumpkins, witches & goblins, children laughing, parents worrying, fireworks, neighbourhood spirit and CANDY CANDY CANDY!
But is that what it’s really all about? NOPE! The ancient origins of Halloween (All Hallow’s Eve) date back to the ancient Celtic festival ‘Samhain’ (around 2000 years ago) in what is now Northern France, Ireland and the United Kingdom. The feast of ‘Samhain’ marked the New Year (celebrated November 1) and they believed that this was when the spirits and ghosts came out to haunt, and the Celts would please them by giving them treats. Huh, who knew?! 😉
Another holiday celebrated (just after Halloween) is the Day of the Dead. What is Day of the Dead/Dia de los Muertos? The Day of the Dead celebrations in Mexico began from ancient traditions. Because it was considered disrespectful to mourn the dead, celebrating the death of a loved one began. Originally, the Day of the Dead was not celebrated in northern Mexico, because the native people had different traditions. By the late 20th century, in most regions of Mexico, practices were developed to honour dead infants & children on November 1 & to honour deceased adults on November 2. November 1 is generally referred to as Día de los Inocentes (Day of the Innocents) or as Día de los Angelitos (Day of the Little Angels) and November 2 is referred to as Día de los Muertos or Día de los Difuntos (Day of the Dead).
Keep in mind, Dia de los Muertos is NOT Mexico’s version of Halloween and even though they are related, they are VERY different. On Dia de los Muertos they show respect and love for family members who have passed on. They celebrate life & death.
Throughout cities & towns in Mexico, people wear stunning makeup and costumes and celebrate with parties (dancing & singing) & parades (absolutely beautiful and magnificently colourful – OH MY THE COLOURS) !! This is when they make offerings to their lost loved ones.
I didn’t know about Dia de los Muertos until we started traveling to Mexico with the kids every year, when one particular trip had us in Puerto Vallarta for Halloween. I assumed perhaps it would be the same there as it is here. Needless to say, the kids (who were then 14, 11, 8 and 10 weeks) were NOT happy about not trick or treating. That was our first experience with the Day of the Dead and that was all it took ~ I was intrigued! Thus began my research (also because I now had to explain to a few kids who the ‘tall people with the masks’ were). 😉
The Mexican Day of the Dead (Dia de los Muertos) celebration is similar to other ways of honouring the dead. For example, the Spanish tradition includes festivals and parades, along with gatherings of families at cemeteries to pray for their deceased loved ones at the end of the day.
The history is inspiring, the parades & costumes are like no other, the colours are magnificent and the meaning behind the day is what makes it truly remarkable ♥
If you haven’t already seen it, “Coco”, an animated 2017 award winning Disney/Pixar film is a definite must see! Although a fantasy, it’s inspired by the Day of the Dead and appreciated for its’ respect of Mexican Culture 🙂