Day of the Dead
One of Mexico’s most important holidays is the day of the dead or “Día de los muertos”. Some believe that on the Day Of The Dead, the souls of the departed return to earth to visit and provide counsel to their families and loved ones. On the Day Of The Dead, people will visit gravesites and the graves are cleaned up, weeds are pulled, debris is swept away and the grave is decorated with flowers. It is celebrated on All Saints’ Day (Nov 1) and All Souls’ Day (Nov 2): Dia de los Muertos – Day of the Dead. Traditionally, the first of November celebrates deceased children and the second of November honors deceased adults.
Day of the Dead originated several thousand years ago with the Aztec and other pre-Hispanic cultures, who considered mourning the dead as disrespectful. For these cultures, death was a natural phase in life’s long continuum. The dead were still members of the community, kept alive in memory and spirit—and during Día de los Muertos, they temporarily returned to Earth. Originally, the holiday was only really celebrated in central and southern Mexico. The indigenous people from the northern part of Mexico had different celebrations and customs.
Although Halloween (October 31) and Dia de los Muertos (November 1st and 2nd) are two distinct events, in recent times the two festive dates have blended into each other. Though, It must be emphasized here that the Day of the Dead, is not a Mexican version of Halloween. The two annual events differ greatly in traditions and tone. Whereas Halloween is a dark night of terror and mischief, Day of the Dead festivities unfold over two days in an explosion of joy and happiness.
There are some forms and rituals for the Day of the Dead celebrations. Families create colorful altars that are called “ofrendas”. These altars express love towards one’s family members who have passed away, and therefore they are being remembered and celebrated. People put these altars in public spaces such as squares or sometimes in local graves where their family members are buried.
Also, families offer food and drinks for the dead. They believe the dead might be hungry and thirsty when they are travelling from the spirit world back to the realm of the living. Some families place their dead loved one’s favorite meal on the altar. Day of Dead emphasizes remembrance of past lives and celebration of the continuity of life. It shows how cultures differ in their beliefs about the meaning of life and death. The Day of the Dead portrays a very beautiful artistic form of collective feelings and connection between different generations.
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The origin of the day of the dead dates back to:
- Spanish occupation in Mexico
- Aztec and other pre-Hispanic cultures
- Can’t be traced back