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Dia De Los Muertos Isn’t Mexican Halloween

This Friday is Dia del los Muertos, which is always celebrated on on November 2nd just two days after Halloween. Because of that the Day of the Dead is often called “Mexican Halloween” by Americans and Latinos that should really know better. It is most definitely not that. Halloween is the day all across the United States, (and increasingly around the world), are going to don costumes and go door to door begging for candy. Though it has its origins in ancient Celtic Pagan worship and their holiday Samhain, Halloween as we know it is a truly American holiday.

Yes, people put on costumes for Dia de los Muertos but that’s about where their similarities end. Where Halloween is a day to celebrate all things spooky and sugar filled, el Dia de los Muertos is really a day to celebrate and remember our ancestors. The tradition comes from the Aztecs who worshiped the goddess of the dead Mictecacihuatl in late October when the harvest happens. It was a day of ancestor worship. In Mexico, particularly Oaxaca, people visit the graves of their dearly departed to pay homage to them. They do eat sweets but more as a way of celebrating life than just an excuse to stuff their face. The difference is fundamentally one of perspective and reflects the national character. Halloween is about consumption and vanity whereas Dia de los Muertos is about remembering the past. So, don’t call it Mexican Halloween. Oh, and don’t wear a sombrero or sugar skull makeup tonight unless you are Latino.

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