Halloween celebration, (October 31st) around the world, takes on a different approach in Mexico, as it shares prominence with our traditional Day of the Dead, celebrated on November 1st and 2nd. On these special dates, streets are filled with altars, in honor of the loved ones who are no longer alive, and some houses are decorated with ghosts, characters and pumpkins typical of other countries.
“Trick or treat” is known as “pedir calavera” (ask for skull) or “pedir Halloween” (ask for Halloween). It is not a tradition incorporated from abroad, since it also has pre-hispanic origins in Mexico as it is believed that a macehual child (which in Nahuatl refers to the middle class) who was orphaned from a very young age, having no food to offer to his deceased debtors, went out every year with his face painted as a skull to ask neighbors for fruit, candy or any kind of food, so he could place an offering to his departed parents.
Nowadays children go from house to house singing small litanies such as “mi calaverita tiene hambre” (my skull is hungry), “¿no tiene un dulce por ahí?” (do you have any candy laying around?) as they show their empty pumpkins -or skulls- for neighbors to fill them with sweets after they hear them sing. You will end up laughing listening to the kids, as they use very original and creative lines to ask for treats. If someone doesn´t answer their call, they still won´t do any pranks or mean things.
It is common for whole families to go “asking for Halloween,” as parents go along with the children -sometimes even bringing babies- to make sure they are safe and well behaved.
Some get a kick out of wearing Halloween costumes, so it is not rare to see people of all ages masquerading as terrifying characters on this special date