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Halloween overtaking Catholic traditions in Latin America

Halloween customs are mixing with Day of the Dead traditions throughout Mexico, robbing some graves of their marigold-petal decorations and leaving the dead to spend their night on earth alone.

Halloween is especially popular in Mexico's north, where US traditions are often brought by returning migrants. In the border city of Ciudad Juarez, television ads urged Mexicans to celebrate Day of the Dead and stop going to El Paso, Texas, to trick or treat.

Day of the Dead traditions are stronger in rural, southern states where locals build elaborate altars and spend the early morning hours of 1 November at the graves of dead relatives.

In Mexico City, Juan Ventura sold werewolf masks and costumes from the movie Scream to people in passing cars. He saw no problem with mixing traditions, saying they are completely different ideas.

"The Day of the Dead is when our relatives come back to visit us, and Halloween is just a party," he said.

Rooted in the Catholic faith, All Saints Day and All Souls Day are celebrated throughout Latin America, with families picnicking at the graves of loved ones. But the Day of the Dead tradition is strongest in Mexico, where the holiday originated from ancient harvest rituals associated with the Aztec god of the dead

But Halloween, celebrated in Latin American anytime between 31 October and 2 November, is catching on throughout the region. The children of the wealthy have Halloween parties at McDonald's in Venezuela, while kids in Bolivia roam the streets yelling dulce truco, or trick or treat in Spanish.


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