Halloween Rebellion in Mexico

I love Halloween!  I always have and probably always will. 

Halloween is NOT a Mexican celebration.  Here, we celebrate El Dia de Muertos on November 2nd.  (More about that on a later post.) Slowly, Halloween is starting to invade Mexico and it is quite the controversy.

Mexicans are very proud of their traditions and frown upon any Americanization of their traditions.  Such is the case with Halloween. 

More and more Mexicans are embracing Halloween.  Whether they have been to the U.S. or not, kids and adults alike are dressing up in costumes, decorating the house and even going trick-or-treating.  There are even Halloween parties and dances at some of the bars in town.

I have witnessed over the years, the increase in Halloween merchandise being sold at the shops in town.

I for one am happy that one of my American holidays is being celebrated in Mexico. But not all people feel the same way.

Some see it as an affront to Mexican culture and tradition.  Some Mexican traditions are being lost. And people feel that embracing Halloween is encouraging that loss.

The teachers at the schools forbid the students to celebrate Halloween.  My children have had teachers threaten to lower their grades if the teacher sees them dressed up for Halloween.

This is what upsets me.  If people want to get mad because Mexicans are embracing Halloween, fine.  What I don't appreciate is that they threaten my children.  I'm an American.  My kids are Mexican-Americans.  My hubby and I are raising our children to embrace (and be proud) of both cultures.  I feel, that as Americans we have the right to celebrate an American holiday, even if we are in Mexico.  We also celebrate Day of the Dead.

There are other reasons that people don't like or want to celebrate Halloween.  One of which is that some people believe Halloween to be Satan's birthday.  (I kid you not!) 

Last year, Hope decided that she wanted to be a devil for Halloween.  Wouldn't you know it?  I was accused of being a devil worshiper for celebrating Halloween and letting my daughter dress up as The Devil.  Ay, ay, ay!

I was worried that my kiddies wouldn't want to celebrate Halloween this year, but the liitle rebels have been thinking of nothing else since September!

With Love,
Leslie Limon


  1. Great picture of your kids Leslie! The rest, ah it always works itself out. In Playa del Carmen the kids in our school are encouraged to do costumes at the school - usually each classroom does a theme. They also celebrate Dia de Muertos with huge displays and all the hupla. I too love the idea of embracing all cultures.

  2. You have the correct attitude. All of our race (human) should be proud and free. It seems archaic to me that some people would think Halloween is the devils bithday. Even for a third world country. I love many aspects of Mexico, I've been visiting since 1963, but obviously you can't expect understanding or tolerance from everyone, no matter what country you live in. I look forward to reading your posts in the future.

  3. Here in Veracruz I've seen a lot of merchandise and costume decor for Halloween. Seems the people here don't mind it as much, but I haven't been involved with an institution such as a school. I agree, I think it's important to allow for the inclusion of all holidays, however, even in some conservative areas of the US the holiday is controversial. The attempts to surpress it may be due to more to the darker associations of holiday (however unfounded they may be) and not so much the American ties. It's probably a little of both.

  4. Some Mexican traditions are being lost. (I don't know why, but it is happening.)

    You don´t know why? Because of folks like you, my dear! On this issue, I am firmly of the belief that one should do in Rome as the Romans do.

    Though I find much to criticize about Mexico, those of their colorful traditions that are so different from the U.S. are not among them.

    What you and an increasing number of others in Mexico are doing is an homogenizing process. If you insist on doing Halloween here, do it in the privacy of your own home because it is quite clear you are irritating your neighbors. Is Halloween so important to you that you want to annoy your children´s schoolteachers?! That is nuts!

    My sister-in-law owns a coffeeshop on the plaza here in Pátzcuaro. Like last year, she put up a bunch of Halloween decorations. And, like last year, I criticized her. But this time, she surprised me and took them down. Now she has Los Muertos decorations. This is good.

  5. Good for you Leslie! The combination of cultures is a natural thing. México will develop its own traditions about Halloween and it will enrich the culture and not detract from it. After all, "fútbol" came to México from England and I don't see any ill effects. It allows México to relate to the entire world as in "World Cup". Perhaps Gringos should worry more about the "Mexicanization" of Halloween. Did you notice that most Mexican Jack-O-Lanterns are smiling instead of grimacing? ¡Viva México! ¡Viva Halloween! ¡Viva la Familia Limón!

  6. Good topic! I'm torn on this, in my opinion there is nothing 'wrong' with Santa or trick or treating. . . but the over commercialization of those concepts is, I think, what most people here object to. And it will follow!!!
    If trick or treating catches on, there will be endless costume shops, DOD tiendas will convert to costumes and bags to carry candy etc. There will be costume tinaguis! Just like all this did in the US. The original concept is cute and fun, but. . .
    Mexicans who can barely afford to put tortillas and beans on the table would not be able to tolerate the demands of their children to dress up in elaborate costumes or buy candy for the neighbor kids who are trick or treating.
    I won't even start on Christmas!
    I agree with you, Leslie, should be fun for the kids to dress up and go trick or treating, and I also agree with you, Felipe, leave it behind.
    Maybe the answer is to have a small group of foreigners or friends put together a 'trick or treat' night/party and keep it amongst yourselves.

  7. SUZANNE: I think its great that both holidays are being embraced in Playa del Carmen. I agree, the rest usually works itself out!

    FRANCISCO: Welcome to my blog. To me the idea of Halloween being thought of as the devil's birthday is just ridiculous. I love Mexico, even with it's faults. If the whole world were understanding and tolerant, life wouldn't be as interesting. I look forward to your future comments!

    What parts of Mexico have you visited?

    LEAH: I've noticed that Halloween is more accepted in the bigger cities and most border towns. I have great memories of one Halloween spent in San Luis, Sonora.

    FELIPE: I too believe that when in Rome do as the Romans. I feel that my life and that of my family's is much richer for doing so. Our lives are also richer for embracing both cultures.

    As far as Halloween and other American holidays, I ONLY celebrate them in the privacy of my own home. I have no desire to shove my beliefs or customs down other people's throats.
    My neigbors and extended family are quite accepting of my traditions. They actually encourage me to celebrate OUTSIDE of my home. But I'm smart enough to know that not all people are as accepting.

    I also don't push my traditions or customs on my hubby or children. They ask if we can celebrate any given holiday. If that is what they want, then of course, I'm going to do whatever I can to please them.

    As far as angering my children's teachers...well, I'm not that crazy! I'm not parading around the school waving banners or holding demonstrations in protest of the ban on Halloween.

    My children's teachers aren't the only teachers who feel this way. Other teacher at other schools also threaten to lower grades. The threats have nothing to do with me, the kids, me being an American or the fact that I celebrate Halloween. They are individuals who feel as strongly as you do about maintaining the purity of Mexican tradition and culture.

    And I respect that.

    BOB: Muchisimas gracias!

  8. MEXICAN TRAILRUNNER: I don't like the commercial aspects of any of the holidays. All of my decorations are handmade by me. I make the children's costumes, and usually end up using things that they already have. Plus, the things I accomplish with what is in my make-up bag would put Rick Baker to shame! :D

    A lot of kids in town do go trick-or-treating. Many of the parents are those that can barely afford to put beans and tortilla on the table. Those kids don't have costumes. But they do have a desire to have fun and celebrate. So, while my kids aren't out trick-or-treating, we do hand out candy and homemade goodies to those that are.

  9. I used to love halloween. It was a time where the kids dressed up and got to go out after dark demanding candy. Then something shifted and it became a Holiday? I would not consider it a Holiday equal to Christmas, Easter, New Years, Veterans Day... rather a suido celebration. Also, I dislike the fact that adults are using this as a justification to dress up in evil or sexually explicite costumes and drink everything in sight. As far as your kiddo's getting to experience everything that their parents want them too, you seem to be right on in providing them with healthy, informed situations. I miss seeing kids dressed up, we had 5 show up 2 years ago and none last year. This year we will be travelling. My favorite costume when I was a kid was a bride or a cowgirl. What was yours?

  10. CHRISSY: I still love Halloween. As a kid, I didn't always get to go trick-or-treating, but I always dressed up. I have dressed up as a cowgirl, witch, hobo, cop, and even Ruth from the Bible. (I went to a Christian School and instead of celebrating Halloween, we had a Hallelujah party!) But my favorite costume was always the witch!

    Where will you be traveling?

  11. I think we're torn between the two. I feel that my kids come from two wonderful cultures. They should be able to experience both! There were no threats from teachers, but our colegio said that the kids can dress up, but only as santos y virgenes.
    We will be experiencing both holidays this year. We will be travelling to my hubby's brother's grave in Leon and cleaning/building an altar...with mariachi's and all. (great to introduce the kids to DOD.) BUT all day Saturday, the kids get to dress up in their costumes and that night, hand out candy to OTHER kids on the street. I think it will be nice to incorporate the two.

    As far as Halloween down here, I know it is an infiltration of American consumerism... but likewise, Day of the Dead is making a hit up north! It's represented in the tattoo/art industry, marketing etc... people are building altars, making sugar skulls, reminiscing of their loved ones...especially since the mexican population is growing increasingly! Wouldn't that also be an invasion on the other side? less extreme, i know. Merging cultures is a beautiful creation... except when molested by marketing and raped by consumerism.

    damn americans.

  12. Leslie, How are other holidays in Mexico celebrated? For example Christmas- here Christmas is the birth of christ, but also Santa plays a big role. My kids go to bed and Santa comes and leaves their toys under the tree. Is it the same in Mexico?
    I don't want to have to change my life and the way I do things with my kids because people will be criticizing me or threatning to lower my kids grades. I lived a very good childhood with trick or treating and Santa Clause and stuff. If someone was saying it was wrong to let your daughter dress as a devil for halloween, what do they say about brujeria? Isn't that in the same class? If you do something in the privacy of your own home then no one should have anything negative to say- right?
    Oh by the way my daughter is going to be a fairy princess and the baby (10 months) is going to be a little horse.
    I tried your hot chocolate recipe and it turned out good, but for some reason there was a chocolate film on top, did i mess up or is that normal?

  13. i would like to also add that my son's 1st grade religion teacher did tell him that celebrating halloween and dressing up was in fact the same as worshiping the devil... and halloween was the devil's night.

    we had a nice loooooong talk about the differences, both good and bad, in our cultures.

  14. I live in Houston,Tx. I'm Mexican, I was so exited about Halloween, but guess what? just few houses were decorated, I didn't see kids on their costumes, I was walking by the streets with my children, all dark any one were giving candies, I live in a nice neiborhood were there's mainly Whites, Indians and Asians... so I think this is happening here too.

  15. Really great post Leslie!  I have a cousin who lives in Mexico and has told me of similar instances and it's disappointing.  To some degree I can understand the sentiment, but mostly I just find it offensive.  Cultures grow and change...a fact of life.  The world is fully of diversity....another plain and simple fact.  Why can't we be open enough to appreciate each other's individuality and heritage?  You should definitely be able to display your proud heritage and traditions no matter where you are!  <3  P.S.  I'd love to see more topics like this on MF!  ;)

  16. Wow...this comment surprised me!  I can't believe that some people view multiculturalism and diversity as 'homogenization'!  Shocking!