Halloween Dia De Los Muertos
If you grew up in America you probably had a few favorite holidays; Christmas, Thanksgiving, and maybe Halloween? It can’t be denied that American children and even the adults look forward to Halloween with glee. The candy, costumes, and parties are always fun, and everyone likes a good scare. However nowadays people have begun to combine Halloween with another holiday in their minds. That holiday is El Da de los Muertos or The Day of the Dead. This holiday is celebrated mainly in Mexico and in a few other Spanish-speaking countries. Halloween and El Da de los Muertos are celebrated within a day of each other, and they have similar traditions, so many people have begun thinking that El Da de los Muertos is the Mexican version of Halloween. However similar these holidays may be they do have differences and in this paper I will compare and contrast Halloween and El Da de los muertos.
The Halloween we know today actually originated from a Celtic ceremony called Samhain, and from the catholic holiday of All Saints day. Many European cultures believe it is around this time that the spirits are allowed to make contact with the physical world. Halloween is celebrated in many different countries such as the UK, United States, Canada, Australia, New Zealand, and many other Latin countries that know it as Noche de los brujas. Traditionally on Halloween or Samhain the ancient pagan festivities included taking stock of supplies and slaughtering the livestock for winter supplies, because it was believed that the spirits would come back to wreak havoc among the living such as sickness and damaged crops. Giant bonfires were erected to burn the slaughtered livestock and the celebrators would wear masks and costumes in order to placate or mimic the spirits. Today Halloween is celebrated in a similar way, but without its former purpose. Children still dress up in costumes resembling ghouls and other monsters, but today they do this when they go trick-or-treating, in order to get small donations of candy. People still erect giant bonfires, but they are for the parties they hold on Halloween. The holiday’s religious meaning has become a relic of the past.
El da de los Muertos is a holiday that derives from an ancient Aztec ceremony. It is a three thousand year old tradition. It is a holiday that celebrates the life of those that have passed on and early remnants of the holiday can be seen in the ancient people’s habits of collecting the skulls of their dead to be used as trophies that symbolized death and rebirth. This holiday is now celebrated not only in Mexico, but also in the Latin communities of the U.S., parts of Europe, and a few other Spanish-speaking countries. Traditionally on El Da de los Muertos families would make trips to the cemeteries in order to decorate the gravesites of their loved ones by creating altars in their honor. The lives of those that have passed on are celebrated and so the holiday is a joyous one, not a morbid one. It is believed that on the first day of the holiday the souls of the deceased children return and on the second day the souls of the deceased adults return. So many preparations are made for their return. Families will lay out a spread of food for the weary souls to partake of after their journey, and sometimes items that the deceased enjoyed in life will also be laid out for the spirit to enjoy. Today El Da de los Muertos is celebrated almost exactly the way it has been for almost three thousand years. The celebration has only gotten more extravagant over the years. New celebrations include attending the shows that the bands and dance companies present in order to keep the spirit of the holiday alive. Children will also dress up in masks and costumes and roam the streets asking for small donations of money. Whimsical skeleton figures decorate the streets and homes and little candy skulls are passed out to the children. The holiday has kept many of its ancient traditions alive and the newer ones fit well within the celebration.
Halloween and el da de los Muertos have several similarities. For instance they are both celebrated around the world with the strongest focus being in the United States and Mexico. They are celebrations involving the return of the deceased souls to the physical world. Their traditions are even similar in both holidays people dress up in outfits that represent spirits, and monsters. Both of their celebrations start on the 31st of October and candy treats reign in the hearts of children on both holidays. For all their similarities these holidays have very large differences, for instance Halloween is considered to be a time of mystery, macabre, and scaring people. El da de los Muertos is a joyous occasion celebrating the lives of the deceased. Although there are religious aspects in both of the holiday’s origins El da de los Muertos is the only holiday to still retain its religious traditions. Halloween is celebrated only on October 31st, where El da de los Muertos is celebrated on October 31st through November 2nd. Probably the biggest difference is the views each holiday shares of the return of the spirits. On Halloween they are mean to be feared, but during El da de los Muertos they are welcomed back lovingly. Whatever similarities and differences the holidays share, in today’s society they have begun to work together. Where each holiday used to be solely celebrated in their countries of origins, the United States and Mexico, the holidays are now celebrated in both countries with equal enthusiasm respect. It would appear that there is a reason most people group the two holidays together in their minds, because they work so well together.
The similarities between these two holidays have overpowered their differences. They are almost symbiotic holidays, with Halloween representing peoples fear for the spirit world and El Da de los Muertos representing their respect and admiration for the spirits. The holidays are different, but they share a bond that probably couldn’t be broken if the holidays were celebrated at opposite times in the year.