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Halloween: The Day of the Dead

In Europe All Souls' Day is devoted to the devout and respectful remembrance of the dead, especially one's relatives. It is a shock to come to the United States and to find it debased into Halloween, with its "trick or treat" threat to commit vandalism unless the victim provides a treat. At Stanford, Halloween has been celebrated by rowdy parties at the Stanford Mausoleum, so noisy that people living at a distance called the police to protest. The vandalism from which the Mausoleum area suffered has been repaired. I wrote to the Stanford Daily asking for a more respectful observance of the day. The response was a letter from one student ridiculing the request and inviting me to share a keg of beer with him.

Prisilla Juarez of the Days of the Dead committee of the Centro Chicano has sent out to the Stanford community, and especially to the Latin American groups, a moving appeal which begins thus:

"The Mexican Días de los muertos or Days of the Dead, generally on Oct. 31, Nov. 1 and Nov. 2, are a yearly opportunity to remember, honor and celebrate the dead. This year that opportunity strikes us as even more critical than usual. In the aftermath of recent national tragedies, we at El Centro Chicano invite all Stanford communities to join our observance of Días de los muertos. We not only want to share our Days of the Dead traditions with other campus constituencies, we also invite you to create an expression which reflects your own community's concerns and traditions".

What a contrast with Halloween! I hope Stanford students will forget the keg of beer and the rowdiness and support the admirable initiative of the Days of the Dead committee.

Ronald Hilton - 10/22/01