Editor, Daily Press:
Halloween is one of my favorite holidays. The fall signifies changes in the season that are exciting and beautiful. For most, Halloween is a fun holiday where children and adults dress up as their favorite monsters or characters. Before deciding costumes, it is important to contemplate what Halloween is, and what it isn't. Ever since the children's movies "Coco" and "Book of Life" were released, it has become popular for many to paint their faces as Mexicans during Dia de los Muertos.
Those who are not Mexican should be cautious of painting their faces this way. It is easy to confuse Dia de los Muertos with Halloween because Halloween used to be a holiday that commemorated the dead. The two holidays fall within one day of each other, and both use skeletons in their decor. However, the difference between the two holidays should discourage Halloween celebrators from wearing La Catrina [skull]. While Halloween is a holiday for horror, fun, and candy, Dia de los Muertos is a day of commemoration.
La Catrina is a sacred symbol used by those who celebrate the Mexican holiday to connect with their loved ones who have passed on. Dia de los Muertos is a spiritual holiday where tears are often shed as family members contemplate those who have passed before them. La Catrina is a lovely symbol, and there is no question that gringos and gringas are attracted to it because of its aesthetic beauty. However, before purchasing the face paint, I encourage those interested to make a friend with someone in the Mexican community and get to know their culture.
Though I am neither Mexican nor Catholic, I was once invited to attend a Dia de los Muertos celebration, and it changed my perception of the holiday. Among my friends whom I encountered at that gathering, I know none of them would have approved using La Catrina to go trick-or-treating or to attend a Halloween party. I love Halloween, and I love the tradition of dressing up, but this year, I encourage Tahlequonians who are interested in dressing up like a character from "Coco" to learn a little bit about the tradition before proceeding.
As seasons change, so can our understanding of different ways of celebration, but only if we are willing to open our minds and hearts to different cultures.
Brian D. King