On Thu, 14 Sep 1995, Andrew Rouse wrote:
> Do other members of this list have experience of "borrowed" or
> "adopted" celebrations? And what is the opinion of the list of such
> activities? Do WASPS celebrate the Chinese New Year? Are celebrations
> becoming as international and bland as MacDonalds?
In parts of the western United States the Mexican 'Dia de los Muertos',
which is heavily loaded with pre-columbian attitudes and iconography, is
just beginning to have an impact on how people relate to the skulls and
skeletons of Halloween (aka Oidhche Shamhna). Just as the Gaels
believed/believe that the Otherworld is especially close to our mortal
realm on the eve of November 1, at the boundary of the old and new years,
so Mexicans believe that the dead are especially close to us on November 2,
All Souls' Day (El Dia de los Muertos). The Mexicans seem to be a bit
more comfortable with this otherworldly proximity than the Gaels have been,
honoring the departed with elaborate altars featuring candy skulls with the
names of dead relatives inscribed in pastel frosting, skeletons playing
instruments, dancing and going about "life", and other lighthearted
touches. El Dia de los Muertos uses humor to domesticate death, and this
attitude is beginning to reach the Anglo population here as well.
As for Chinese New Year, the US Postal Service has taken to issuing
stamps each year in honor of the holiday and the astrological animal of
the new year. I'd love to see a really good Halloween stamp, but that
would bring howls of protest from the fundies who see satanism under (or
in?) every bed.