Day of the Dead and Halloween are Two different celebrations
Although the Day of the Dead and Halloween can be interpreted as very similar celebrations, the reality is that their origin and cultural meaning is very different.
The Day of the Dead is one of the most emblematic and well-known festivities in Mexico; For more than 3,000 years, the Mexican people have commemorated their dead by receiving their visit each year in a celebration full of tradition.
On the other hand, Halloween has its origin in Celtic culture, when they celebrated the end of the harvest season and welcomed the Celtic New Year, while at night it was believed that spirits roamed among the living.
Here are some of the most important differences between the Day of the Dead and Halloween.
The tradition of the Day of the Dead indicates that souls arrive every 12 hours between October 28 and November 2 to visit their relatives, while Halloween is celebrated on the night of October 31, when the spirits can walk among the alive.
Skulls and pumpkins:
On the Day of the Dead, La Catrina plays a very important role, since it is the representation of death in its Mexican version, the work of the cartoonist José Guadalupe Posada as a socio-political critic towards the country's upper class.
On the other hand, Halloween has Jack's lantern (Jack-O-Lantern), which was born from an old Irish folk tale that tells of Jack, a farmer who with his cunning managed to catch the Devil, but when the farmer died he could not enter to heaven or hell, for which he was condemned to live in a flame inside a pumpkin.
Decorations, colors and flavors
During the Day of the Dead many colors are used and there is an atmosphere of celebration and respect for both life and death, elements such as the altar are used, where food and drinks that the deceased relatives liked are offered, so that these they feel welcome to celebrate with the living, it is a ritual that cannot be absent in Mexican homes, in the offering, in addition to serving food, love and respect are put for the dead who visit the homes in that celebration.
On Halloween, black, orange and purple are used more, and people dress up as terrifying characters and in some places bonfires are lit to drive away evil spirits and demons; while offerings are left at the doors of the houses, hence the children and not so young now go to ask for sweets from door to door.
In Mexico, during the Day of the Dead literary Calaveritas are commonly made, compositions in verse that allude in a satirical and humorous way to well-known characters and their relationship with “la calaca”, that is, death.
Although popular legends are also told in the Mexican tradition, on Halloween, horror stories told in front of a campfire, with terrifying beings and monsters as protagonists, are more common, with the purpose of scaring people. It is also usually a night to watch horror movie marathons with the same purpose.
Spirit Guides: Animals
For Mexico, the Xoloitzcuintle is a living heritage, being a breed of dog native to the country and having a close relationship with the pre-Hispanic culture. It is believed that this dog was the guide of the deceased, and accompanied them to the underworld. Because of this, they were usually sacrificed and buried together with the dead they were supposed to lead.
On Halloween, black cats play an important role, because in places where witch hunts were held, they were associated with evil, thinking that they were bad luck, and even more so if a person crossed the path in the moonlight . In places where there was no witch hunt like Great Britain and Ireland, the opposite was believed, as they generated good omen for absent relatives, so that they would return safely.