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Picking Bones, Part Two

“‘It is not Mexican Halloween’: How to celebrate the Day of the Dead with cultural sensitivity.” That’s the title of this linked article. And it’s incorrect. Sorta. But first, it is indicative of just how far we have strayed from the original designs of “political correctness”—or “cultural sensitivity,” to use the politically correct term for political correctness—which was simply to be respectful of others, to what the term has come to mean these days—an eggshell-walking oppressive over-concern that even someone like Barack Obama has criticized—that it immediately activates my gag reflex when I see it mentioned. And the article doesn’t do a lot to help. No, you don’t have to be Mexican or speak Spanish to celebrate the Day of the Dead. Anyone can join in the celebration. Just make sure to keep in mind the intent behind the holiday and don’t just use it as an excuse to swig beer.

Now about that Dia de los Muertos/Halloween connection: they actually *are* the same celebration in a macro sense. The Christian holiday All Saints Day was superimposed over the Celtic festival of Samhain. It was an easy fit, as both celebrations had in common a recognition and celebration of the spirits of the dead. The night before All Saints, or All Hallows, to use the older name for the holiday, was called Hallow’s Evening, shortened to Hallow e’en, or Halloween. Got it? Okay, so to incorporate not only the Christian Saints but all of the departed, the day after All Saints was termed by the Catholic Church “All Souls Day.” (The three dates together, Halloween, All Saints, and All Souls, are known as “Allhallowtide.”) And it is All Souls Day that is celebrated in Mexico as the Day of the Dead. The latter incorporates unique trappings, yes, including some pre-Columbian indigenous beliefs, so in that regard it is distinct. But all these celebrations—Halloween, All Saints, All Souls, and Dia de los Muertos—all spring from the same source, which is the practice of ancestor veneration common in all the ancient world.

If you’re gonna attempt to school your readers, Ms. linked article writer, please try to cover all the bases.

TheCheezman • November 8, 2019


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