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Comparing Day of the Dead and Halloween
Transcript of Comparing Day of the Dead and Halloween
H a l l o w e e n
What do they have in common, and what makes them different?
These two holidays have been celebrated for hundreds of years, and are part of two different major cultures. The big question is, what makes them similar, and how do they differ from eachother?
Differences between Dia De Los Muertos and Halloween
Both Dia De Los Muertos and Halloween have treats served throughout the holiday, but they come in different forms (Different delicious forms).
During Halloween, people usually receive various types of candies. Kinds of candies include chocolate, caramels, sugar candies, gummy candies, and much more.
On Dia de los Muertos, calaveras and pan de los muertos is served, along with many other candies in shapes of coffins, skulls, and skeletons.
Pan de los muertos is a special bread made in the shape of a skull and crossbones, and calaveras are skulls made of sugar. These skulls are usually decorated beautifully.
Almost all holidays have a symbol to represent what they are.
The symbol for halloween is the classic Jack o' Lantern. Back in the middle ages, these Jack o' Lanterns were part of a ritual harvest festival in Welsh, Irish and Gaelic cultures. They were used to guide trick or treaters through the night and keep away evil spirits. Not all Jack o' Lanterns were pumpkins. Some were made out of radishes or squash.
The symbol of Dia de los Muertos, or the Day of the Dead, is the classic skull or skeleton. If you went to a Day of the Dead celebration, you would see happy skeletons on display practically everywhere across city streets. Another important symbol of the Day of the Dead is the marigold flower. It is said that the flower draws back the souls of the dead and leads them to the homes of their families.
Even though the two holidays seem silmilar in some way, they come from two very different cultures.
Believe it or not, Halloween is a holiday that is nearly 1300 years old, and it originates from Welsh and Gaelic cultures. It was a holiday evolved from the Samhain (Sah-win), an ancient Celtic holiday. This was a time where the harvests were collected for the winter, and it was believed that since winter was approaching, it would allow the souls of the dead to breach the world of the living. The spirits that came down to earth were said to ruin crops, hence the reason for the harvest festival.
Dia de los Muertos is a holiday that was celebrated by Aztecs thousands of years ago. The Aztecs celebrated the goddess of the underworld, Mictecacihuatl, and also honored dead loved ones through festive and colorful celebrations. However, instead of the holiday lasting two or three days like the modern Day of the Dead holiday, the festivities would last for months at a time, from late July to the middle of August. You could imagine people would be tired out after the festivities ended.
Some people could say that the best part of Halloween and the day of the dead is that you get to dress up. That's better than getting cavities, right?
During the day of the dead, people will often dress up as skeletons. Usually, you can have your face painted in colorful and floral patterns. If you wanted to wear a costume you could dress up as a man or woman from the middle ages. As cool as that sounds, face paintings can become quite intricate, and people aren't afraid to get fancy.
When it comes to Halloween, there is no such thing as over-doing your costume. Costumes consist of mythical creatures, spirits, animals, and more. I could swear I've seen a food costume before. But costumes aren't just for fun on Halloween. Another nickname for Halloween is Hallowmas, and during the middle ages, poor people would walk up to doorsteps asking for food in return for praying for the dead to prepare for the harvest, almost like carolers do on Christmas. These two factors became "Hallowmas". Costumes were worn back then for protection against the evil spirits that were said to roam around at that time.
Similarities between the Day of the Dead and Halloween
Welcoming the dead
Halloween is actually pretty similar to the day of the dead in terms of welcoming them back home. Both holidays originally lasted from Oct. 31st to Nov. 2nd
Halloween was originally called "All Hallows Day" Or Hallows Eve. Welsh, Irish, and Gaelic cultures celebrated All Hallows Day. Since they believed that the dead would come back to them during the harvest, or the Samhain, they would set up a dinner and leave the fireplace burning at night, awaiting for their deceased and loved family members to return. The path that lead the dead to their families' doorsteps would be lit up by Jack o' Lanterns, rather than normal candles.
On Dia de los muertos, families would set up altars that contained ofrendas, or offerings for the dead. These altars were made to welcome the dead back home and usually contained favorite foods, personal possessions, clothing, and portraits of them. These altars are often set up inside homes and in cemeteries. Using marigold petals, families would lead a path from the cemetery to their doorstep, hoping that the deceased could find their way back home and see the offerings set up for them.
Celebration: For the same reason
In general, Both Halloween and the Day of the dead were originally celebrated for the same reason: Honoring saints. As mentioned before, the Aztecs celebrated this holiday in order to honor Mictecacihuatl, the goddess of the underworld. They believed that death was just an extension of life, and they therefore celebrated it and praised Mictecacihuatl. Halloween was originally called by many names: Allhallowstide, All Saints Day, All Souls Day, and the most common name: All Hallows Eve. "Hallows Eve" Eventually became Halloween over the years. During All Hallows Eve and the Samhain, people would leave out offerings of food, drink, and part of the harvest in hopes that the aos si would be pleased. The aos si (eesh shee) are spirits, much like faeries and elves. Since they were considered more like saints, it was decided that they should be given offerings in hopes that the harvest would not be ruined.
Pan de los muertos
calaveras (sugar skulls)
Jack o' Lantern
(Snickers is the best, you can't
Dia de los muertos face paints
Graveyards at All Hallows Day