Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Trick or Treat or Tequila

So it's October 31st, Halloween, All Hallow's Eve, Samhain. Tomorrow is the first day of the "Dia de los Muertos" celebrations. I take great pride in learning all about the traditions of Mexico and I particularly love the Day of the Dead celebrations and their connection to Halloween. Long, long ago this day was considered the time when the spirits were close to the living world, a time when the dead could connect with the living. Christianity decided that these were "evil" spirits and thus Halloween was born, a time to don costumes and make jack o lanterns to scare away the "demons". Not very respectful if you ask me, but hey, in this century it's a great party! The idea of trick or treating is to please the spirits with offerings, to keep the evil at bay.

Day of the Dead on the other hand welcomes the spirits back to earth for a fiesta! Altars are created to present the offerings of food, tobacco, flowers, tequila and other earthly delights that were special to specific ancestors. People go to the cemeteries with their offerings as well, clean off the grave sites and party with the dead. Every school will have special events and altars, even McDonald's have altars in their restaurants! November 1st is set aside for honouring the children who have died and November 2nd is for adults. It can be for those that have past this year or two hundred years ago. Many towns have parades and parties and bonfires. It's quite a happy time for an event that is about the dead! This is a really unique Mexican experience, other cultures may embrace the dates, but Dia de los Muertos is pretty darned Mexican.

I'm so pleased that my son will have the best of both cultures and is able to celebrate both Halloween and Day of the Dead. We aren't doing an altar at home this year because he's two and he's a TERROR, but he is dressing up as a vampire tomorrow and making presentations to the altar at school. That's plenty for this year.

Here's a calavera that "we" made for the school decorations. BOO!


Brice said...

VERY cool!

Heather said...

Thank you for helping me explain this day to Ze, lol!

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