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Halloween vs. Day of the Dead

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Halloween vs. Day of the Dead
Amy Barrows
Com/170
10/31/2012
Margaret Munger

Similar traditions are held between the Day of the Dead and Halloween, yet they have very different origins. They both started out as their own separate festivals/celebrations but over time they gained either Catholic or Christian tendencies. Which only served to make them even more similar, leading confusion for many Americans now a days. Most people know of the similarities but do not know of the origins of either! Even most Americans who celebrate Halloween do not know of it is origins! Day of the dead was a celebration to celebrate the Aztec goddess Mictecacihuatl, Lady of the dead. They celebrated for about a month long in their calendar what all know as August. They had all the same traditions as they do now but back then the altars/shrines they made were at the graves themselves to bring the family/descend person back to the land of the living. Aztecs would spread the flor de muertos (flower of the dead) from the grave sites to their homes. A way of leading the lost souls to their families and loved ones. Aztecs would even make foods and treats with the deceased name on the calaveras de azucar (skull of sugar). This all went on for many centuries until the Spaniards came and influenced their religion with more Catholic ties. Example being they changed the month-long celebration to be only two days coinciding with November 1, All saints day and November 2, All souls day. The Aztecs use these two days now to celebrate the children who have passed the first day and the adults the second day. Or another way, to celebrate the first day and go to mass on the second. The Aztecs believed that we were only dreaming until death came, and we were a waked to see the whole plot of the world. Halloween was more of a pagan celebration in which the Celtics celebrated the end of spring and the beginning of winter. This holiday, or time of year was called Samhain (pronounced sow-in). The Celtics believed that at Samhain, where the days got darker and longer, the dead would come and destroy their crops or their live stock. So the Irish, which was the majority of the Celtics at this time, would light fires to keep the spirits away. Going as far as to wear mask made of animal skin. Burning fires was another symbolic way of warding of the spirits as well as throwing animals or crops onto the fires. Once they had done these things to appease their deities they would ask for visions to see into their future. Trying to see if their good fortune with either crops or wealth was in store for them to keep the long nights a head hopeful. Once the Romans invaded they tried to bring their religion and traditions. One being Feralia, a day in late October when the Romans traditionally celebrated the passing of the dead. The second day was to honor Pomona, the Roman goddess of fruit and trees. Most believe that because of this goddess is where we started bobbing for apples. Gradually after three hundred years later the Pope had dictated many differences in the church that had spread across the western hemisphere. One being that All Saints day was to be celebrated the first of November, a day where Celtics were told to remember all the saints and even the devil. Then the second All Souls day was to be celebrated the second, and we were to remember all the dead or souls. Once the days were established shortly after the potato famine happened in Ireland and many immigrants came to the colonies. While here in the states it became more widely celebrated again, with slight differences. The holiday was already here brought by earlier settlers but with the famine many immigrants were very poor so they would go door to door asking for treats. if the families said yes then the person was asked to do a treat back like pray for the household families deceased or sing. Starting Trick or Treat in the colonies. The settlers had already had slight traditions that were very similar but with practices the church would be okay with. Examples being looking in a mirror over your shoulder to look for a husband or gatherings with food offered for the ones that had passed. Once the baby-boom hit it was harder to hold these functions of partying in town-centers, so they were moved to the homes of who choose to celebrate what some still considered devil worship. To this day it is still held up for debate what a “good christian/catholic” can celebrate. For all saints day it is asked to remember all the saints. Be they the good ones or the fallen ones. Anyone with an interest can find many articles on weather or not you should or should not celebrate as a christian or catholic. As stated there are many similarities as in the day it was moved to to the type of basic traditions. Simply put people of the old times want to believe that the dead should be respected. Both the pagan Celtics to the Aztecs to even the church believe one day should be giving to the dead. Weather it be to rejoice in the lives the deceased have lived to the spirits that could do harm so must be scared away, to simply just remembering the ones, that we loved dearly, that pasted. Aztecs used mementos at their altars and trails of marigold flowers to lead their deceased loved ones home. Celtics would use fires and sacrifices to keep the dead ones from returning. Aztecs felt that we are never really alive till death so we should rejoice when our loved ones pass. Celtics believe that our souls have gone to another place and if that soul should return it would only be for bad reasons so they mourned the dead. Aztecs made a joke of the dead by donning themselves in skull appeal as well as even eat sweets made into skulls. Celtics would don costumes of animal skin and bones to put fear into the lost souls. All these things have such a similarity that it is not shocking at all to see why so many Americans now believe that they are the same. Or that they were at least based off of the same thing. The holidays were only really truly similar back in the A.D. By the fact that it was two nationalities that believed death was a thing that should be respected.

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