Harlingen Happengings

By Mary Torres, Special to the Star

Halloween falls on Saturday, October 31, 2020 this year, and celebrations will be quite different  due to the Coronavirus pandemic.  The origin of the celebration dates back over 2,000 years to the Celtic festival of Samhain held on November 1 in Ireland. This date marked the end of summer, the beginning of the New Year, and the start of winter and was celebrated with big bonfires, parades, and dressing up in costumes as saints, angels, and devils. In the seventh century, Pope Boniface IV, designated November 1 All Saints’ Day to honor saints and martyrs. The night before the celebration began to be called All-hallows Eve and, eventually, Halloween. Later the church would make November 2 All Souls’ Day to honor the dead. Together, the three celebrations, the eve of All Saints’, All Saints’, and All Souls’, were called Hallowmas.

In Mexico and other Spanish-speaking countries, Halloween is known as “Dia de Los Muertos.”  the three-day period beginning the evening of October 31 and ending on November 2, that honors departed loved ones and celebrates the continuity of life. In Mexico, All Saints’ Day, November 1, honors deceased children and infants as well as saints and martyrs.

Pre COVID-19, we would normally associate Halloween with dressing up in costumes, going to parties, attending city and church festivals,  and trick-or-treating. Due to the pandemic, many cities and counties are banning trick-or-treating and other in-person events and many are suggesting alternative activities. For information on any upcoming activities watch for announcements in your local newspaper and on Facebook.

According to the CDC, many traditional Halloween activities can be high-risk for spreading viruses. They suggest several safer, alternative ways to participate in Halloween. If you may have COVID-19 or you may have been exposed to someone with COVID-19, you should not participate in any in-person Halloween festivities. The CDC suggests some lower-risk activities that can be safe alternatives: carving or decorating pumpkins with members of your household, decorating your house or living space, having a virtual Halloween costume contest, and having a Halloween movie night with the people you live with.

Visit the CDC website, https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/ for a complete listing of safe practices, lower risk activities, moderate risk activities, and higher risk activities, not only for Halloween but for Thanksgiving, Christmas, and other holidays.

Katelynn Rentería, a local award-winning author and motivational speaker, has created a virtual event that she has been hosting during the month of October, “The Write Crowd: A Virtual Author Expo.” She created the event in the midst of our current world situation for authors and proponents of literacy to connect with one another and share their stories and insights while staying safe and in a manner where a variety of audiences could be reached. On Saturday, October 24, at 2 p.m., she will host “Fantastical Finds, Vol. 2” with panelists, Shaila Patel, Gabriel H. Sanchez, & Ashley Dotson and on Sunday, October 24, at 2 p.m. the topic will be a “A Novel Experience, Vol. 2,” with Alissa Karin Shirah, Nason Rumfield, Jaqueline Smith, & Katelynn Rentería. Both events will be streamed live via her Facebook Page & YouTube channel: Author, Katelynn Rentería. For more information on “The Write Crowd” visit  www.authorkatelynnrenteria.com/the-write-crowd.

The Harlingen Arts & Heritage Museum and the Rio Grande Valley Museum Association, 2425 Boxwood St., Harlingen, invite you to visit the Day of the Dead/Dia de Los Muertos altar exhibit on display through November 8. These beautiful and unique altars/ofrendas have been created by local families and community organizations to remember their family and friends who have passed on.

El Dia de Los Muertos, a traditional Mexican celebration, remembers family members, friends, pets, and other loved ones who have passed on with special altars that include photographs, foods and activities they enjoyed, and special mementos. Admission is free and the exhibit can be viewed during regular museum hours, Tuesday-Saturday, 10 a.m. to 4 p.m., Sunday, 1 to 4 p.m. The museum is closed on Mondays. For more information visit the museum’s Facebook page or call 956-216-4901.

Have a safe and Happy Halloween!