Halloween Customs in Mexico

by Elizabeth
(Denver, CO., USA)

The Day of the Dead or El Dia de los Muertos is a holiday in Mexico around the same time as Halloween

The Day of the Dead or El Dia de los Muertos is a holiday in Mexico around the same time as Halloween

1. Q: Is Halloween only a big holiday to Americans and Canadians?


A: No. Some countries celebrate it in different forms as a big holiday. To Mexicans in Mexico, the US, and Canada, their version of Halloween is a big holiday.

2. Q: What is Halloween called in Mexico?
A: The Day of the Dead El Dia de los Muertos

3. Q: When is it and how long does el dia de los muertos last in Mexico?

A: The day of the dead is always November 2. But the preparations and festivities can start slowly around October 30-31.

4. Q: What is the main activity that is done during the day of the dead?

A: Decorating. But the context of the culture is important to know why decorating is the important thing. Mexico is mainly Catholic, and the day of the dead is closely connected with a Nov. 1 Catholic holiday. Some tangible icons have real and important meaning both to Catholics and in the context of the day of the dead. The purpose of the decorations is to communicate in some way with those who have died. The decorations have more meaning than Halloween decorations in the US and Canada. Some families build altars at home for this holiday and leave items for departed loved ones in graveyards.

5. Q: Do people go trick or treating on the day of the dead?

A: Not in Mexico, although special foods are made. There are candy skulls and other Halloween candies given to the kids at their own homes. There are a lot of Mexican nationals living in the US and they do tend to combine trick or treating with Mexican Halloween celebrations.

6. Q: Are there Halloween parties in Mexico?

A: Yes. The day of the dead is for remembering the dead and celebrating them. Although part of the day can be solemn, parties that day and that night are common too.

7. Q: Are the day of the dead and Halloween the same thing?

A: No. They come from totally different cultural traditions. Both Mexican political authorities and the Catholic Church have criticized the American/Canadian version of Halloween. There has been increasing combining of the two holidays in Mexico and along US border states. But Mexican authorities think that waters down the Mexican version of the holiday. The Catholic Church considers the American/Canadian version to be very un-Christian.

8. Q: Do people dress differently for the day of the dead?

A: In Mexico some adults and kids wear costumes and masks as part of the celebrations on the day of the dead.

9. Q: What are some costume ideas for el dia de los muertos?

A: The costumes are not as varied as Halloween costumes in the US and Canada. Both adults and kids wear the costumes. A person can use white face paint all over their face to look like a skull. Black face paint is put in strategic places on the face to make it look more like a skull. A woman or girl could wear a traditional Mexican blouse and skirt or dress. A woman could wear a wedding dress and veil. A man could wear black pants and shirt with bones made of fabric sewn onto them.

10. Q: How can I make a costume for the day of the dead?

A: These are much easier to make than costumes from other countries! They can be made easily at home. All you need is black and white face paint and an outfit from a used clothing store. A man's costume can be made by cutting white fabric into the shapes of bones. Then sew the bone shapes in strategic places onto the front of a black pair of pants and a black shirt.

11. Q: What are some foods I can make for the day of the dead?

A: Pan de muerto day of the dead bread is the most common food. It has at least a few hundred different varieties. It is always an egg bread. Candy in the shapes of skeletons and skulls are also common. Chocolate added to other dishes, and specific types of alcohol as drinks are appropriate. If more food is desired make almost any traditional Mexican food that is really enjoyable and more special than usual.

12. Q: Is the meaning of the day of the dead the same as the meaning of Halloween?

A: They having similar meanings, but the dead of the dead has a more precise meaning. The day of the dead is the day departed souls return to earth each year. It's emphasis is more on real people than figurative ideas. It is more thoughtful than scary.

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