From my Spanish-speaking friends, I have learned about the Day of the Dead, a Mexican holiday that is celebrated not only throughout Mexico, but also around the world and in other cultures.
The holiday, which coincides with our celebration of Halloween, focuses on gathering family and friends to pray for and remember friends and family members who have died.
Similar observances are held in Europe. Many couples take their wedding vows on Halloween.
So, they don’t see this as a somber holiday. According to Wikipedia, "The intent is to encourage visits by the souls, so the souls will hear the prayers and the comments of the living directed to them. Celebrations can take a humorous tone, as celebrants remember funny events and anecdotes about the departed.
"Plans for the day are made throughout the year, including gathering the goods to be offered to the dead. During the three-day period, families usually clean and decorate graves; most visit the cemeteries where their loved ones are buried and decorate their graves with ofrendas (offerings), which often include orange Mexican marigolds (Tagetes erecta) called cempasúchil (originally named cempoaxochitl, Nahuatl for "twenty flowers")."
I have had one family member and a co-worker who chose to get married Oct. 31.
On a personal level, my father died Oct. 31, 1986. For years I couldn’t bring myself to celebrate this day. For seven years I didn’t. I just didn’t want to think about it. Then, in that eighth year, I decided to enjoy Halloween again, and I’m glad that I did. I bought candy for neighborhood children again. One thing I do is buy candy and give it to children’s centers for their parties. I purchase coloring books for them, as well. Of course, the coloring books are Halloween-themed.
This year, however, I will not carve my pumpkin. I plan to have a "posh pumpkin." First, I’ll paint it with acrylic paint and let the paint dry. And then I will glue candy all over it.
I have never been able to cut out a face on a pumpkin that I wanted to show to anyone, so I have elected to create my "posh pumpkin."
My treats will be good treats, and I have a wreath on my door. Yes! I am ready for the big day, when I will become a child again, if only for one day, candied apples and all.
Let out that child who wants to get out! Make a funny face. Have yourself a frightfully sweet celebration Oct. 31.
Dorothy Frazier Piedrahita welcomes reader comments. She can be reached at email@example.com.