A Glimpse at a Different Kind of Halloween

October 31 may signify Halloween for us, but other cultures celebrate a different version of Halloween. Day of the Dead (Día de los Muertos) spans over October 31 through November 1 and is celebrated in many parts of South America. This is a holiday meant to honor those who have passed away. Although it may seem like a sad occasion, it is actually a joyous one. glimpse

Sugar skulls are a noteworthy part of Day of the Dead celebrations because they capture the light-hearted essence of this holiday. Sugar skulls are colorful and cartoon-ized versions of skulls that are made from sugar.  These sugar skulls are now becoming more popular in the tattoo world. Their meaning can be in honor of a deceased loved one but can also have the message of embracing death, rather than being afraid of the idea.

Another tradition of this holiday that is worth recognizing is the gatherings that take place at cemeteries. At the cemeteries, they clean up and decorate the graves of their deceased loved ones. At these gatherings they share funny stories and talk about the good times they had with the deceased. These can often turn into overnight graveyard vigils. Other forms of gatherings include block or street parties, festivals, and parades.

Honoring the spirits of the deceased is an integral part of this holiday. It is believed that any spirit whose memory is neglected becomes angry. This leads to the spirit haunting those still living who neglected the spirit’s memory. Many people build altars and leave offerings so that the spirits do not seek revenge.

On the alters, people leave candles, skull candies, pictures, bread, and other things to let the spirits know they have not been forgotten.  These alters can be found in houses, schools, government buildings, ect.

Even though Day of the Dead starts on our Halloween, it is a significantly different from how we celebrate. Day of the Dead is focused solely on spirits of loved ones who have died, along with spending time with others who want to remember the good times of those who are deceased.