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Halloween and Day Of The Dead

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It’s party time in Cabo: with Halloween just a few days away, the town it taking on distinctly ghoulish and spooky feel!

Halloween actually originated as a Celtic festival having its roots in Scotland, Ireland and Wales where it grew from the ancient pagan rites observed after harvest and at other important times of the year. The modern practice of dressing up was an extension of the “mummers” or “guisers” who wore costumes at that time, originally thought to disguise or protect them from evil spirits. In 16th century Scotland it became popular for youths to go from house to house dressed up and offering to sing or recite poetry for gifts of food, but if they were refused there was a sting in the tail in the form of threatened mischief. This is likely one of the roots of Trick Or Treat.

Of course it has come a long way since its pagan beginnings and now Halloween could be almost thought of as one of THE big holidays of the year for Americans. The annual New York Halloween Parade, initiated in 1974 by puppeteer and mask maker Ralph Lee of the Lower Manhattan neighborhood of Greenwich Village in New York City, is the world's largest Halloween parade and America's only major nighttime parade, attracting more than 60,000 costumed participants, 2 million in-person spectators, and a worldwide television audience of over 100 million.

Here in Cabo it may not be as big an event but there is still plenty to do and see with almost every bar, restaurant and night club running themed events and promotions from pumpkins on the tables to Zombies serving drinks! Fun is the object of the exercise.

The other main holiday at this time is the Day of the Dead (Spanish: Día de Muertos)This is a very Mexican holiday observed throughout Mexico. The focus is on gatherings of family and friends to pray for and remember those who have died. It is a bank holiday and the celebrations takes place on October 31, November 1 and November 2.

People go to cemeteries to be with the souls of the departed and build private altars containing the favorite foods and beverages, as well as photos and memorabilia, of the departed. The intent is to encourage visits by the souls, so the souls will hear the prayers and the comments of the living directed to them. Celebrations can take a humorous tone, as celebrants remember funny events and anecdotes about the departed.

A common symbol of the holiday is the skull (in Spanish calavera), which celebrants represent in masks, called calacas (colloquial term for skeleton), and foods such as sugar or chocolate skulls, which are inscribed with the name of the recipient on the forehead. Sugar skulls as gifts can be given to both the living and the dead. Other holiday foods include pan de muerto, a sweet egg bread made in various shapes from plain rounds to skulls and rabbits, often decorated with white frosting to look like twisted bones.

The most distinctive sight though is those with calavera make-up: in other words people made up to look like skulls and skeletons.

The Day of the Dead celebrations in Mexico can be traced back to a pre-Columbian past. Rituals celebrating the deaths of ancestors had been observed by these civilizations perhaps for as long as 2,500–3,000 years so with both the Day of the Dead and Halloween we are talking about very deeply rooted, cultural events which have, over time, been assumed into modern holidays.

And the great news is that if you are in Cabo during this time you get to celebrate and experience both!

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