Throughout time and across the world, cultures have found unique ways of dealing with the loss of a loved one. In Mexico, people celebrate Dia de los Muertos or Day of the Dead. It’s not necessarily a sad moment either. If anything, it’s a colorful celebration dedicated to the dearly departed in that country.
And although the festival has evolved over the years, it’s still a major event in Mexico. So, although Halloween is behind us, there’s still time to get into the spirit of things for Dia de los Muertos. But in case you’re wondering how, here’s the way most Mexicans celebrate this very important holiday.November 1 is dedicated to deceased children on the Day of the Innocents (Dia de los Inocentes) or Day of the Little Angels (Dia de los Angelitos). Then, on November 2, adults are honored. But the entire celebration is a three-day event that can’t be missed.
The Aztec Empire was in power and they considered it rude to mourn the loss of those who had crossed over.
So, they came up with a month-long celebration that allowed the deceased to pay the living a visit while also paying tribute to “The Lady of the Dead.”.
Some people even add flowers to their hair or wear big hats to accentuate the look.
This tradition has inspired a number of Halloween costumes in the States, as well as other contemporary cultures beyond the border.
In the Pre-Columbian era, people made these out of trees, because the Aztecs were total bosses when it came time to adorning religious sites.
But tody, this type of folk art is made out of technicolor tissue paper.
The celebration will often involve the creation of an altar, where family members, friends, or participants can add food, skeletons, and other trinkets.
But these altars aren’t just for decoration. They provide a bridge that allows the dearly departed souls to make their way back to the world of the living.
The Calaveras are made out of molded sugar paste.
They’re often decorated with spiderwebs or flowers, and they have the names of a deceased person written in icing or foil. Some people will even add feathers, beads, or other forms of adornments.
It’s actually a sweet roll, often decorated with skeletons.
Orange zest and anise seeds are used to flavor the bread. But while the living are the ones who consume the bread, many believe that the spirits are able to absorb the tasty essence of the bread as well.
Locals make Pulque out of fermented agave sap. But other alcoholic beverages are available as well.
And like the Bread of the Dead, spirited drinks are offered to put the spirits at ease so they can enjoy the festivities. But of course, the living can definitely join in on the fun too.
An ofrenda or offering is placed on the altar. This often includes things like food.
On the Day of the Dead, you’ll find altars in homes, churches and cemeteries full of ofrendas. Each will have their own artistic touch.
While most families choose to put photos of their human family members, they can put photos of just about anyone including a friend, a deceased celebrity, or a pet.
That way, everyone on both sides can get en epic reunion during the three-day holiday.
It truly is a celebration of the spirits who come and visit their loved ones.
Not only do they get to visit the world of the living, but they’ll get a taste of what they’ve been missing since they passed away. It’s not a bad way to vacay before heading back to the underworld.
Aside from the items we’ve talked about already, Mexicans will add candles to help light the way for wayward spirits.
Some folks will even place the candles in a cross formation to orient them towards the altar. But in most cases, the decorative patterns are random.
Halloween is all about mischief and horror, which is the total opposite of Dia de los Muertos, which celebrates the dead with colors, parades, songs and dancing.
The ritual is a symbolic way to love and respect family members who have passed on.