October 31st is synonymous with Halloween where I come from in Canada. In another lifetime, when I was a child, the chant was “Halloween Apples!” But it has now evolved to “Trick or Treat!”
Halloween conjures up images of costumes, carving pumpkins and toasting the seeds, as well as parties and candy. When my children were young, we would plaster the windows of the house with spooky decorations. We would bake cookies and cupcakes. We would create a ghosts in the graveyard with chocolate mousse and tomb-shaped shortbread. Here’s a photo of them preparing a pumpkin.
And because we lived in Winnipeg, it was often necessary to walk the streets in snow-filled tire tracks in search of candy. Costumes were often worn under heavy parkas. But masks and facepaint were plentiful.
Halloween is celebrated quite differently here in Mexico. While I have decorated the odd classroom with students, few of my students have experienced going door to door to collect treats. Instead, the bakeries and shops are filled with sugar skulls instead of candy kisses. Yes! Sugar skulls! Why? Day of the Dead is celebrated here on November 2nd.
It is also customary to build altars in honor of the deceased. These are often quite elaborate and require days of preparation. Photographs, keepsakes, candles and other decorations adorn these structures. The traditional flowers are orange marigolds.
Tlaquepaque is especially festive. Independencia is a pedestrian only street and it is amazing at this time of year.
At El Refugio a spectacular artesan fair is held in addition to the display of alters and catrinas for Day of the Dead. Here is a photo of a “live” catrina this year.