“My dad comes from a Mexican and Spanish heritage, his dad was from Spain and his mom was from Mexico, and its interesting because my grandmother and my grandfather never really liked Halloween and my grandmother never really liked the day of the dead but my dad is like an enthusiast about Halloween like every year since he was little he used to build haunted houses for Halloween so when he was little he used to build haunted houses out of boxes or on the playground at parks and now that he’s older he builds them out of our house because its like a big deal and he spends hundreds of dollars on Halloween decorations every year and he makes me and my sister fly to Arizona to celebrate it with him. Its almost bigger than Christmas. Each person is designated to a certain set-up so like one year I’ll do the voodoo set up and my sister will do like the graveyard and he tries to theme it every year, so one year it will be the Caribbean and the next it will be like the classic haunted house like the Disneyland haunted mansion, and my whole entire family comes to his house to celebrate it, and my grandmother when she was alive would dress up like a witch and my grandfather would dress up as the hunchback of Notre dame, and every year no matter what the theme is, there is always a fog machine, and usually it sets off the fire alarm every year and the fire department comes and they help my dad fix the fog machine so it doesn’t give out too much fog. My dad plans Halloween literally after Halloween is over for the next year. To me it has special significance because it’s a time when all of my family gets together because usually at thanksgiving and Christmas your relatives are at different places and usually at Halloween, while my dad takes it seriously, not everyone else does, so we aren’t worried about who is making dinner or seating arrangements so its like a big party every year.”
Informant: The Informant is twenty-one years old, and of Spanish, Italian, and Mexican heritage. She grew up in Arizona.
This holiday tradition, along with the interest in it taken by the informant’s father, has several interesting attributes. Both Mexican and Spanish traditions place great emphasis upon Halloween and the day of the dead. In Mexico, the day of the dead is very important to the culture, and widely celebrated throughout the country, and Halloween, along with All-Souls’ day is an integral part of the Spanish culture. The main belief surrounding these holidays is that the souls of the dead return to earth during this time, and are to be honored and celebrated.
For the grandparents of the informant’s father to dislike Halloween and the day of the dead festivities could be attributed to fear or superstition or the supernatural, which surround this holiday season. However, it also detracts from the inherited tradition of the family. Therefore, the father’s love for Halloween could come from a subconscious desire to celebrate his heritage through partaking in the tradition that both of the cultures, from which he is descended, place a special emphasis upon Halloween or the day of the dead.
If this were the case, the large-scale celebration that he insists upon enacting through the building of elaborate, themed haunted houses would constitute celebrating the holiday with a special connection to his heritage. In addition, his large celebration brings together the entire family, something that is very special to the informant, as it is the only time of year that her entire family is together. So, a holiday that was once disliked by the grandparents of the informant’s father, now serves as a binding holiday because of the elaborate rituals undertaken by the informant’s father to celebrate Halloween. It brings together the family as they each help out in building the houses, even though they are not nearly interested in the holiday as much as the informant’s father. This also demonstrates that the actual construction of the themed houses serves as a great example of a ritual that brings together a family in celebration of their culture and tradition.