They’re celebrated days apart and cultures apart.
Halloween and Dia De Los Muertos may seem similar from afar with decorations of skulls, treats for every sweet tooth and costumed crowds packing the streets. But the American tradition of Halloween and the Mexican tradition of Dia De Los Muertos (Day of the Dead) are celebrated as differently as the cultures they originate from.
What started as a pagan Celtic tradition has evolved out of religion and into recreation, with kids and families loving the cornucopia of candy corn and caramel apples for Halloween. Dia De Los Muertos began as a festival dedicated to the Aztec goddess of the afterlife as a way to pay respect to ancestors long gone. The day is prized among Central and South Americans and represents more than a day of tricks: it’s a day to honor. The masks of ghouls and ghosts on Halloween are intended to fend off evil spirits, while the people of Mexico welcome the spirits of those who have passed and celebrate their legacy. The classic Halloween colors of orange and black are major to the holiday with jack-o-lanterns, witches brew and black magic. On the other side of the color spectrum, Dia De Los Muertos is represented with colorful gravesites and family gatherings decorated by food and flowers. Where Halloween brings fun to the season and your boss is walking around the office wearing cat ears, Dia De Los Muertos is a cultural holiday with history. Go celebrate!
It wouldn’t be out of the ordinary to hear your door bell ring and open it to find Batman, a fairy, the Hulk and an adult-sized witch on your front step. Costumes are a Halloween-must, and the coolest one usually comes home with the heaviest candy bag. With Halloween postponed from scary Hurricane Sandy this year, it gives us all a little more time to glue on the last piece and sew on the last touch. But with all the fun, the line to offensive is drawn with Pixy Stix dust. With less cartoon characters to imitate and more characteristics to mimic, controversial costumes have started popping up to include all the accessories and a few stereotypes. Halloween costumes like suicide bomber, rapper, gypsy and pimp have garnered much negative attention and are accused of being guilty of a few –isms. Culture-imitation costumes have also been deemed offensive by many, with outfits like Asian nerd and redneck becoming part of Ohio University’s campaign “We’re a culture, not a costume” in 2011. However you celebrate Halloween this year, make a conscious effort to look like something rather than someone. Imitation is the greatest form of flattery, but in this case could be seen as the greatest offense.
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