Lily Raines

Holiday Chemistry - Deepavali/Diwali, Halloween, and Dia de los Muertos

Blog Post created by Lily Raines on Oct 26, 2016

This is a big week for holidays around the world!


On October 29 and 30, many South Asian countries will observe Deepavali or Diwali, which is the Hindu Festival of Lights that celebrates the triumph of good over evil and light over darkness. Lights are everywhere and fireworks are common. Many people light small oil lamps, called diyas, in their homes. If you light your own diyas, you can use them to explain adhesion, cohesion, and capillary action to kids.


In the UK, Canada, and the US people are getting ready for Halloween on October 31. As we enter our autumn, pumpkins are everywhere, the weather is getting cooler, and sweet treats are abundant. People decorate their homes with lights and prepare costumes. Adults will watch scary movies, and kids will visit their neighbors, say "trick or treat!" to receive tons of candy. This is normally not considered dangerous, but just in case ACS Reactions recently released a video to answer the question: how much candy would kill you?


Like Deepavali/Diwali and Halloween, el Día de los Muertos in Mexico is a great opportunity to eat a lot of sweets. In this case, sugar skulls and pan de muertos. It is said that deceased loved ones can come back to visit on this day, and so everyone throws a big party! People leave the favorite toys and snacks of the deceased at their graves or at altars dedicated in their memory. On November 2, before you decide to bake some pan de muertos learn about the chemistry of baking here.


To help you celebrate the season, wherever you are, check out Halloween experiments from the ACS,  this list of ways to incorporate math and science into Diwali celebrations and a description of a "firework" like lava lamp; and a video explaining how "glow in the dark" makeup works for some great calavera face paint.


Know about other holiday themed chemistry experiments? Let us know in the comments!


Happy Diwali! Happy Halloween! ¡Feliz Día de los Muertos!