Yesterday we celebrated Halloween here in NYC. Although Zeis and I did not dress up we did partake in the festivities by going to check out the annual NYC Halloween Parade. The weather was warm and it was drizzling, making for a perfect night. The streets were crowded making it hard to get by and even harder to really get up a close up peek but we managed.
Today is November 1st, and while we celebrate Halloween, many other countries celebrate or observe Day of the Dead. Mexico is probably the country that is most closely associated with this holiday though it is not the only country. Although I don’t dress up for Halloween or partake in Day of the Dead celebrations, there is something I really enjoy about it all. I like the history behind it as well as the spookiness. A few years back a friend and I went to Mexico City to celebrate Day of the Dead and it was an amazing experience. The city had been completely taken over by altars and decorations to mark the Day of the Dead. We loved it.
As per Mexican tradition, Day of the Dead, is a time to celebrate loved ones who have passed. They celebrate the lives of those gone as opposed to mourning and feeling sad about it. Perhaps that’s why I like it so much. Altars are created for the deceased and offerings are placed on the altars. These offerings consist of foods and drinks that the deceased loved as well as photos of them, flowers and candles. In Mexico, brightly painted sugar skulls or calaveras and pan de muerto are also popular to add to the altars. Stories of the deceased are also shared as a way to keep a connection to the loved ones.
Though Mexico’s celebration is probably the most colorful and better known of the celebrations. Other countries around the world also observe this holiday, including Spain. In Spain, there are festivals and parades in many towns and at the end of the day families visit their loved ones at cemeteries. Here they pray for their loved ones as well as bring flowers to the graves. In Cuba, the tradition is similar. There are no celebrations to mark the day but rather more of a day of remembrance with visits to graves where flowers and candles are lit. Either way, Day of the Dead has less of a scary and creepy although today’s weather in NYC would have you thinking otherwise.