Once again, Halloween has come and gone, but the spooky holidays aren’t over just yet. In fact, we are currently still in the midst of one, or two, depending how you view it. As per Mexican, Guatemalan, and Bolivian tradition (among others), people across the Western Hemisphere are paying homage to lost loved ones in observances that began yesterday with All Saints Day and continue through today with All Souls Day, more commonly referred to as the Days of the Dead.
While the Halloween we celebrate was not directly influenced by Day of the Dead, it has adopted some of its customs, most notably the enjoyment of sweets, costumes, and macabre icons. Hurricane Sandy may have put a damper on many youngsters trick-or-treating plans this week, but for those who celebrate Day of the Dead, this holiday represents much deeper roots that could not be canceled or delayed. Elio Masferrer, an anthropologist who focuses on Mexican religious studies explains,
“In the European-Christian notion of death, our loved ones go far away and we’re left to survive on our own. But in the Mexican case, in Andean countries, the world of the living and the dead co-exist. The living seek help and protection from the dead, especially on Day of the Dead.”
Day of the Dead is viewed by many as a re-encounter with lost loved ones, and, despite its name, is a joyful holiday and celebration of life. Traditional celebrations include picnics in cemeteries, parades, gravestone decorating, and feasts. The most popular symbols associated with Day of the Dead are sugar skulls and marigolds.
Although Day of the Dead celebrations in Rochester are not quite the same, they aren’t nonexistent, either. If you’re looking to get out and about tonight, check out the Outer Body Masquerade Ball tonight at Max of Eastman Place to celebrate Halloween, Masquerade, and Day of the Dead all in one.
Remember – no matter what the retail stores tell you, it’s not Christmas yet, so make the most of this fun and spooky time before Turkey Day while we still can!