Ask a Mexican

Do you celebrate Day of the Dead or Halloween? Or both? How do you celebrate?

1. Gabriel Diaz, 46, driver.

I celebrate none really, I just like the food that my wife makes around Día de Muertos. Back when my kids were younger, we would take them for their “calaveritas” (trick or treating) but even then, I feel like we were doing it the Mexican way. During that time the costumes were not as fancy as they are today, and imported costumes were just too expensive so my wife had to make whatever costumes they chose. I think we celebrate a mix of both.

2. Leonardo Diaz, 29, service provider.

My whole family celebrates Día de Muertos, we get together and make an altar for our grandparents, the house is rotated every year. We make sure our altar is exactly how they should be, with all 7 levels, the salt and spices drawing on the ground and everything. The women of the house cook a feast, with my grandfather’s favorite dishes and following my grandmother’s recipes. We do let the kids ask for candy if they want to, but we make sure they understand that’s not our tradition and try to have candy there to stop the urge of them going out. We also don’t cook those recipes I mentioned other times of the year, which makes us crave them even more.

3. Diana Balderrama, 23 years old, nurse.

I celebrate Halloween at work, all the nurses get dressed up as something not too scary for the kids and we go reverse trick or treating to their rooms and beds. At home, we don’t celebrate much, as I have no kids yet and my nephews are too old and think they’re too cool. I don’t even decorate my house as Halloween-ish or anything and don’t put an altar because it’s a lot of work. I do enjoy Halloween parties though and dress up a little bit.

4. Silvia Manriquez, 27 years old, dentist assistant.

I hate Halloween. I definitely think it’s more of a marketing strategy than a tradition and find it quite horrible to celebrate a thing that’s not even ours. I love Día de Muertos, the handicrafts, the traditions and the food. I love going to a special market that happens in my hometown, where everything is about Día de Muertos and the food is as good as on Independence Day. I don’t teach my daughter about Halloween and when at school they ask her to dress up I have to let her so she won’t feel excluded, but she doesn’t love getting her face painted or anything.    

5. Adriana Lopez, 52 caregiver.

My family celebrates Halloween pretty big because most of my uncles and brothers have lived in the U.S., they even make snacks that look gross and everything. I personally don’t think much of it but I like the snacks and drinks, I think they’re fun. As far as Día de Muertos, we go to where our family is buried, take food and some beer and eat with them as if they were there. It’s also fun, but it’s a lot of hassle taking a tarp, food, beer, ice, kids, etc. Still, we only do it on Día de Muertos and that makes it not so bad. My kids are now young adults and they go out now, but when they were little, I used to take them trick or treating with their cousins.

6. Jose Camarillo, 46 years old, driver.

I come from a very small town where Día de Muertos is a big deal, so I don’t like Halloween very much. In my town, in Guanajuato, we go to the local cemetery at midnight carrying candles and flowers and mariachi or guitars. We sing sad songs and drink tequila and cry over the graves until someone decides to sing a happier song and it slowly turns into a celebration of life rather than crying for death. I think it’s kind of beautiful because everyone is allowed to cry and no one will look down on anyone and we end up laughing and telling anecdotes about those who are no longer with us. 1. and dress up a little bit.