While many of us can be found dressed up in the scariest costumes and loading our nap sacks with treats to the brim come Halloween night, less than a few days later, our Latino brothers and sisters here and home and especially in Mexico, Latin America, and Spain, can be found celebrating the return of the dead in a similar fashion during their festive El Dia De Los Muertos, otherwise known as All Souls Day.
All Souls Day which takes place on November 2, is commemorated with a three-day celebration that begins on the evening of October 31st, the same night as Halloween. The celebration, much like the that of the ancient Celtics, is designed to honor the dead who, it is believed, return to their earthly homes through a portal between the “other world” and here.
In honor of these celebrated and sometimes feared spirits, participants dress in costumes and parade through the candlelit streets at night en route to sacred burial grounds and selected spiritual locations to livicate the spirits of the dead with song, food, items of significance, flowers and candy. Alters are built and graves are decorated as family members and loved ones gather together to picnic with the ancestors on this holy of nights.
The similarities between the two holidays are pretty strong. Both had roots in the honoring of the dead, both are celebrated during the harvest season, and both involve the wearing of costumes. Sweets for the dead and candles or jack-o-lanterns to light the way home for returning souls are other recurring themes as well.
Though there are many folks today who do not believe in a world outside of their limited optical viewing, celebrations like these have been going on for generations all across the world reminding us that there is more to life than meets the eye, and the honoring of departed loved ones is a tradition not soon lost.
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