Halloween vs. Day of the Dead
By Suzanne Barbezat, About.com Guide
Though Halloween and Day of the Dead have some things in common, the differences between the two holidays and the way they're celebrated show the great difference between the way death was viewed by the people of ancient Mesoamerica and Europeans. Though both of these holidays have combined with Catholicism and changed over time, the roots of each show a vast gulf between their conception of death. Celebrations of Halloween come from the idea that the dead are to be feared; children would dress up in costumes as a protection against them, and the Jack-O-Lantern was thought to ward away evil spirits. In Day of the Dead celebrations, however, the spirits of dead loved ones are welcomed into the home, graves are decorated, and entire families spend the night in the cemetery to honor and remember their dearly departed. Death is portrayed as something natural, normal, sometimes mocked, but kept close and familiar.