Festivals and Events

Mi Calaverita: Mexico’s Trick or Treat

As we remarked in a related article, Mexico is skillful at assimilating foreign things without surrendering its own traditions and identity.  This blending of the unusual amidst the familiar helps to underpin Mexico’s attractiveness as a place to visit, and live.

An example of this blending of cultures is how Mexico has adopted the Halloween custom of trick-or-treating into its Day of the Dead traditions.  On the night of November 1st children in cities, towns and villages across Mexico will dress up and, porting their hollowed-out and glowing pumpkins, roam local neighborhoods asking for candy.

Instead of the ‘trick-or-treat’ mantra, the children arrive at each dwelling house and sing a little ditty which asks for their calaverita — little pumpkin — to be fed. (Traditionally, the calaverita is made using a chilacayote instead of buying an orange plastic replica; but the latter are available in local shops.)

There are several verses to the ditty and, like Mexico’s birthday song, the first verse is always sung, and subsequent verses (in their original form or a variation) may follow-on afterwards…

Mi Calavera tiene hambre, ¿no hay un huesito por ahí? No se lo coman todo, déjenos las mitad.

La calavera quiere cenar; cinco de dulce, cinco de sal

La calavera tiene hambre, denle un pedazo de pan; no se lo acaben todo, déjenos la mitad

Taco con chile, taco con sal; la calavera quiere cenar

El muerto pide camote, si no le dan se le cae el bigote; la viuda pide una ayuda para su pobre criatura

Yo quiero mi calavera, antes de que me muera; no quiero la del difunto, yo quiero la de la ofrenda

Mi calaverita tiene hambre—mucha hambre, ¿tiene algo por ahí?

Qué bonita casa, que bonito hogar; queremos calavera, ojalá nos puedan dar.

Although confectionery is the most commonly-given treat, some homes prepare  traditional foods or snacks to share with passers-by, which might include pieces of fresh fruit, small tamales, etc.

Afterwards, when the children begin to walk away with their calaveritas (or themselves) duly fed, a final line may be sung:

Ya se va la calavera; bien agradecida; porque en esta casa fue bien recibida.

If you’re visiting one of Mexico’s colonial towns or cities during the Day of the Dead, you might see children dressed-up in costume and walking around local homes and shops during the hours immediately after sunset.

If you live in Mexico, it’s worthwhile stocking-up with some confectionery to give children on the night of November 1st, especially if you’re situated in a neighborhood where young families live.  November 2nd is a public holiday in Mexico.

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