Halloween and Day of the Dead are separate holidays often mixed up

While Dia de los Muertos and Halloween fall close to each other on the calendar, they are two separate celebrations and should be seen as such


Spenser Leise

Halloween and Day of the Dead are often compared, which can leave the Day of the Dead in disregard.

During the season of Halloween and Dia de los Muertos, it is important to understand these two holidays are separate and aren’t celebrated the same way.

Halloween includes people dressing up as anything they want to be. It’s filled with candy and haunted houses. Children go door-to-door to collect candy. Pumpkins are carved into jack-o-lanterns. Homes are covered in spooky decorations. The weather cools down, autumn leaves are on the ground.

The traditional colors of Halloween (orange and black) were chosen to represent the leaves, harvest, and darkness of the holiday.

There are Day of the Dead traditions that have been around for a long time. People make ofrendas (tables that hold pictures of family that have passed away) for their loved ones. The ofrendas have marigold flowers, food, water, and symbolic decorations that correspond with their loved ones. The food and water works to help family members cross over to the world. The marigold flower guides spirits to the living. On Dia de los Muertos people also visit the graves of family members who have passed away. Those celebrating attend parades, dress up as catrina or catrín (a sugar skull), play music and dance in colorful dresses and suits, put flowers in their hair, and paint their faces like skulls.

This holiday originated in modern day Mexico and began with the Aztecs. To honor the dead, the Aztecs would use skulls symbolically. They placed the skulls on their temples. They believed that when someone died, their spirit went to an underworld where there were colorful creatures called alebrijes. They also believed if they didn’t remember them on Dia de los Muertos they would be forgotten forever and no longer be in the underworld. The holiday has been celebrated for 3,000 years and is on Nov. 1.

Given all this information, Dia de los Muertos is not only a celebration of family but a celebration of a culture. Halloween, on the other hand, is not a cultural celebration. The Day of the Dead is incredibly important to many people — it should be respected.

Next time you’re in a store aisle and see sugar skulls with witches on broomsticks next to them, remember that these are two individual celebrations. Show respect to Dia de los Muertos by not lumping it in with annual Halloween celebrations.