Monday, October 31, 2005

Halloween muscles in on Patzcuaro holiday tradition (or cultural imperialism south of the border)

Caesar López, 13, carved a jack-o'lantern from a chilacayote gourd and brought it to Patzcuaro's Plaza Grande each night during the weeks preceding Dia de los Muertos, or Day of the Dead.
Once there, instead of accumulating candy by calling out "trick or treat" as his counterparts north of the border might do, he collected money by asking bystanders, "Give me something for my chilacayote."

And many did. On a good night, said Caesar, he made up to 20 pesos with his gourd jack-olantern.

When asked to explain the difference between Halloween and Dia de los Muertos, he responded innocently, "It's the same thing."

Over the past 20 years, Halloween influences have crept into Patzcuaro, a colonial city where the indigenous Purepecha build impressive Dia de los Muertos alters and hold nighttime grave-site vigils to honor their deceased loved ones.