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The evolution of Día de los Muertos

A woman dressed as a catrina participates during the parade of the "Day Of The Dead Festival" in Guanajuato as part of the 2021 'Day of The Dead' celebration in Guanajuato, Mexico.
A woman dressed as a catrina participates during the parade of the "Day Of The Dead Festival" in Guanajuato as part of the 2021 'Day of The Dead' celebration in Guanajuato, Mexico.

It’s easy to mistake Día de los Muertos for Halloween. 

Skeletons and marigolds, like the vivid orange macabre of jack-o-lanterns, are synonymous with the tradition. So are the food and treats prepared for loved ones who have passed away. 

While both traditions evolved from a complicated intertwining of pagan and Christian beliefs and traditions, the push to keep Día de los Muertos a separate tradition from Halloween and faithful to its indigenous roots is as complex as the history of the holiday itself

Introduced in the U.S. as part of the Chicano Movement in the 1960s and ‘70s, Día de los Muertos celebrations have become a part of fall festivities in towns and cities around the country. 

But what gets lost in translation? Who gets to decide what aspects of the tradition change and what stays the same?We take a closer look at the history and evolution of Día de los Muertos stateside.

Copyright 2023 WAMU 88.5. To see more, visit WAMU 88.5.

Barb Anguiano