Halloween or Day of the Dead

by Ragtimelil

Have you ever wondered about Halloween and what it really means? I've decided to celebrate Halloween my own way.

I have to admit, I’ve always loved Halloween. As a kid, I dressed up with the best of them and ran amok through the streets trick-or-treating and came home with a big haul of candy. It may be a silly tradition, but it was fun. I didn’t know the real tradition behind our begging for candy - that it sprang from an ancient custom in England of beggars knocking on doors to beg for a “soulcake” in exchange for prayers for the dead of the household. Somehow we missed the praying part.

All Hallow's Eve


As I got older, I gave up trick-or-treating and moved to where there were no children to give treats to. I did, however, feel something strange about this time of year. I began to wonder about the real reason for Halloween. I discovered that Halloween, or All Hallow’s Eve, was Samhain to some and the US version of the Day of the Dead in other parts of the world. I began to celebrate a bit differently.


Halloween in the US

Although I celebrate Halloween, I have to say, I’m a little put off by some gory displays of violence and murder. Near where I used to live, people really went all out with dismembered body parts and hanging bodies in a tree. One local store used to put up an elaborate display of a chainsaw murder. I couldn’t even look at it. It might be a spooky time of year, but that doesn’t mean it has anything to do with murder and gore.

It does have to do with death, however. Some cultures don’t hide the fact of death but celebrate it as a passing from one form of life to another. While I have no objection to dressing up in costumes and having a party, I like to remember the real reason for the holiday.


Day of the Dead in Mexico

A celebration of death as a passing from one life to another

My Celebration

I’ve always been a rather eclectic sort of person when it comes to spirituality and my beliefs. I don't seem to be able to stay on track with any one belief system. I follow what makes sense to me. Honoring my family members who have passed on seems to be one of those things. I light candles, and do a little decorating. I put out a plate of food for any spirit who might visit me on that night. One time a friend and I built an alter with cakes, bread, flowers and photographs and other items related to our family members. It was moving to make something beautiful to remind us of those who were gone. I intend to make one this year too - and now I remember to say a prayer.


Updated: 09/14/2012, Ragtimelil
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Ragtimelil on 08/16/2012

Thank you. I just learned they celebrate the Day of The Dead in Europe. Learn something new every day.

katiem2 on 08/16/2012

Very cool, what a great wizz. My kids learned about day of the dead during their Spanish language classes in elementary school. They celebrated day of the dead with traditional foods and such. Halloween is a very fun holiday for us as well. :)K

Ragtimelil on 08/15/2012

Yes, I was thinking of you but I figured you'd be the one to talk about that part of it.

JoHarrington on 08/15/2012

I most certainly do celebrate this. It's Samhain to me, one of the major Wiccan Sabbats. :D

Ragtimelil on 08/15/2012

I saw those around Massachusetts. I hated driving by that corner. Ugh.

BrendaReeves on 08/15/2012

Lil, Where did you grow up? I never saw gory decorations like that in CA. I'm a Baby Boomer too.

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