Day of the dead, DIA DE LOS MUERTOS ,. Foreigners seem to be fascinated with this Mexican event and a bit dismayed by this celebration . It seems that because of this fascination, foreign visitors have shown up for this celebration, and it has become even more of an event than it was maybe 20 or 30 years ago.
In Jalisco, or at least in the Guadalajara area, Day of the Dead was not as spectacular event as it is in more indigenous populated areas like Patzquaro .
Dia de los Muertos was more like Memorial Day in the States, a time to fix up family plots. There might be an evening mass said at the cemetery, and maybe a few families would hire mariachi to play some heart wrenching classical mariachi music that was bound to bring tears to your eyes . But in general no altars or all night vigils in the cemeteries .
A special sweet bread is made for this holiday, and Parque Morelos in Guadalajara for this time of year sells lots of Dia de los Muerto items, as well as traditional toys to be given to kids on the 1st of November’s Dia de los Inocentes.
Dia de losl Inocentes is for all the children who passed away in their childhood.
Parents give thanks and celebrate their children’s good fortune and health by giving paper mache toys to their children .
Then about 15 years ago Halloween started to make inroads into Mexican culture . I presume that all of the Mexican cousins up north were sending messages south of the boarder about the wonderful northern event of Halloween where kids dress up and get candy . Well what kid does not think that is great ?
So there was a grass roots movement of kids who dressed up and marched around rather militantly in my neighborhood chanting, “Queremos Jaloguin” (“We want Halloween”), and then they would march up to a door and ring the door bell yelling, “We want Halloween.”
This went on for a few years; then, the local fathers decided that this was a cultural invasion and enforeced celebrating Dia de los Muertos in school with a party, altars and other fun things to compete with what seems to be primal urge for all kids, an overwhelming desire to dress up oddly and get candy .
I believe the city fathers decided that even though it’s not celebrated as much in the state of Jalisco, Dia de los Muertos was celebrated to a degree. And at least it was a Mexican holiday . So with a bit of adjusting of a local holiday, adding more candy and making public altars Dia de los Muertos has rather replaced the Halloween movement, although there are still kids that dress up on Halloween in the hopes that there may still be a chance for this imported holiday to take root .
College kids, fitness centers, night clubs and the like still seem to celebrate a version of Halloween with parties .
And for all of our northern friends that think Dia de los Muertos is odd, try explaining Halloween to someone from Greece , or, let’s say, China . You explain that kids dress up as ballerinas , vampires or kids with a rubber knife through their head or some other odd way, and go around knocking on doors and the get candy — all a bit odd if you have not grown up with the celebration