Why Don’t Dominicans Celebrate Halloween?
At first this question may seem odd, considering that it does appear that they do. At least some. But the truth of the matter is that they don’t much outside of tourist areas, and there actually is an anti-Halloween movement in the DR. On social networks and in public you will find many who vociferously speak against this celebration.
The reason is twofold.
#1. It’s Considered An American Holiday
So? Don’t many other countries also celebrate it?
Yes and no. It is true that in many other countries there are similar celebrations of it, but the reasons are mostly as an excuse to celebrate something. Germany for example did not celebrate it at all prior to the 1990s, but U.S. pop culture influence (movies, TV shows, etc) have inspired many to also party. If Rachel and Ross get to dress up on Friends, why not us too? This is the same in many other countries, and while it’s not official holiday, people still like to party.
Other counties do have similar religious festivities on this very date — All Hallows’ Day, All Saints Day, etc., but again — under the influence of U.S. pop culture — the look of these celebrations has changed and begun to resemble the American way of celebrating them.
Besides, any good reason to party can make money, so you will find stores and business from Santo Domingo to Dubai having Halloween specials.
Then why is there an anti-Halloween movement in the DR?
Let’s not forget that while the DR has a close economic and social relationship to the U.S., not everyone is happy about that. There is a simmering anti-U.S. sentiment, especially within the younger patriotic community. Many point to the two ‘invasions’ (other words used in history books are ‘occupation’ and ‘intervention’) of the U.S. in 1916 and 1965. And while these were actually for the most part very positive to the DR economy, nobody likes to be pushed around and told what to do — which is what some feel happened at the time. The current political climate does sometimes give the impression as if once again the U.S. is meddling in DR politics and society, which many dislike. So why celebrate something that is perceived as predominantly American?
This, by the way, is a sentiment shared all over Latin America…
They hate Americans?
No, of course not. That’s not what this is about. It’s a matter of national pride. The sentiments are rather in opposition to undesired U.S. (or other) social and economic influences, and Halloween seems to stand as a prime example of that. The DR has always struggled with a social identity, and the younger generation that is standing up from the poverty and educational limits of their forefathers want to shed this social inferiority complex and develop things they can be proud of.
Celebrating Someone Else’s Holiday therefore seems out of place.
Yeah, but, I know plenty of Dominicans who celebrate it!
As stated above, the victory march of U.S. pop culture is unstoppable, particularly with so many Dominicans living in the States and then importing the custom. So, you will see Dominican celebrate it, and possibly more in the future. But for now don’t expect hordes of candy-craving-kids roaming the streets and trik-o-tri-ing.
#2. It is A Demonic Holiday
But it’s a Christian celebration!
While it’s origins are a corruption of Christian and Pagan celebrations, it is considered purely demonic and understood as such by the truly pious, of which there are still plenty in the DR. You will find lots of Catholic and particularly Evangelical priests pounding their pulpits over it and condemning anyone to eternal damnation whoever celebrates it. You know how it is…
But don’t they all dress up once a year in Demon costumes and run through the streets in that carnival thing?
Well, eh… yeah… it’s like… national pride… thing…
Pretty much, yeah.
I get it. We got that everywhere.