What Is Day of the Dead? – This Annual Tradition Honors Loved Ones Who Have Passed Away If you’re interested in the culture of Mexico and its neighbors, you’ve probably heard of Day of the Dead, also known as Día de los Muertos . But do you know how this annual tradition compares to similar ones practiced in other parts of the world, like Halloween? Find out what it’s all about below.
What Is The Day Of The Dead (Dia De Los Muertos)?
November 2nd marks the day known as Día de los Muertos in certain parts of the world.
It is a time to remember and honour loved ones who have passed away. The Day of the Dead takes place on November 2nd in some regions, while other regions celebrate it during different months.
November 2nd celebrates All Saints’ Day and All Souls’ Day, which honors all those who have died. Unlike Halloween, this tradition focuses on celebrating life rather than death.
Along with honouring those who are gone, food and drink are shared to bring them back to life in spirit form for one night only. Families decorate their homes with altars that include pictures and objects which remind them of their departed loved ones.
Candles are lit as well to guide spirits home. However, there is more to Día de los Muertos than simply remembering lost souls. In fact, many similarities can be drawn between Día de los Muertos and Halloween.
These two celebrations share many similar traditions such as dressing up like ghosts or monsters, visiting cemeteries or gravesites, and making decorative skull-shaped foods such as sugar skulls or calaveras.
Both holidays involve preparing large meals which typically consist of sweets such as churros or pan dulce (Mexican pastries), fruit salads, and tamales served with hot chocolate.
A strong sense of community is often seen in both traditions which encourages neighbors to gather together for games like dominoes and cards.
The History And Significance Of The Day Of The Dead
Day of the Dead, which is also known as Día de los Muertos, started in Mexico. In ancient times, it was believed that spirits would return to earth for a certain number of days to enjoy and bring comfort to their families.
The Aztecs celebrated a ritualistic festival on November 1st called Miccailhuitontli (or the little month), during which they would provide food and xtocoxochitl (flower water) to departed loved ones.
They would also leave out small figurines representing those who had died with items they might need in the afterlife such as clothing or food.
It wasn’t until two centuries ago that this tradition became more widespread across Latin America when Mexican Catholic priests replaced Aztec gods with Christianity. These clerics then combined many of the indigenous rituals with Christian traditions and renamed it Day of the Dead.
Today, people celebrate by building altars dedicated to ancestors where they will decorate them with flowers, photographs and candies. After sunset, friends and family will gather around these altars for candelit ceremonies before sharing memories about the deceased person.
Some may even wear masks or costumes representing their ancestors which serve as a way to connect with them spiritually.
For example, children may dress up as Spiderman or Elsa from Frozen while adults might put on a dress and makeup to look like Audrey Hepburn.
On November 2nd, celebrants often visit cemeteries where they place gifts for their relatives’ graves.
It’s not uncommon to find marigolds, honey jars filled with candy corn – which symbolizes life – oranges and apples which represent fertility, coffee beans which signify energy and good luck – among other offerings depending on the location.
Another popular custom is leaving bowls of ashes in front of an altar so relatives can absorb what remains after cremation.
How Does One Celebrate Dia De Los Muertos?
The traditional celebration of Dia De Los Muertos is marked by three days of remembrance. The first day, Nov. 1, honors those who have died in the past year. On Nov. 2, family members and friends gather at the gravesite to pray for their loved one and leave offerings such as flowers, candles and food.
The third day on November 3 sees children receive gifts from La Catrina (a skeleton figure) before she disappears with the sun until next year. Families also visit cemeteries to clean gravestones and decorate them with flowers or other symbols that signify their loved one’s life.
And it’s not uncommon for them to construct personal shrines at home, which are made up of photos and items that were important to their deceased relative.
These can include anything from favorite clothing to cigarettes and even a photo album. Each person has their own way of celebrating and remembering those who have passed away during this time.
Some honour relatives through prayers and exchanging sugar skulls while others honour their departed loved ones through drinking pulque or eating pan de muerto (bread of the dead).
A new form of celebratory art called calaveras shows how death is woven into everyday life; these colourful paintings often depict skeletons holding machetes surrounded by fruit and plants. Calaveras represent aspects of Mexican society, including violence and work.
One specific type of calavera called the prom depicts a skeleton dressed in formal wear alongside an epitaph which reads: prom night.
Why Do People Celebrate Dia De Los Muertos In Different Ways?
Day of the Dead, which is also known as Día de los Muertos, has been celebrated in certain parts of the world for centuries.
It’s a time to honour loved ones who have passed away and can be compared to Halloween due to shared traditions.
The celebration takes place all over Latin America but varies from country to country. In Mexico, for example, many people build altars that are decorated with flowers and photos of deceased family members or friends on November 1st and 2nd.
Then on November 2nd, families will gather at cemeteries where they’ll pray for their departed loved ones before returning home for feasts in their honor.
The traditional event is celebrated in other countries too, including Paraguay, Bolivia and Honduras. In Bolivia for instance, the celebrations take place on August 31st when families visit cemeteries to clean them up and bring offerings of food.
Children enjoy sweets made out of maize flour called mazamorra while adults enjoy alcoholic drinks such as beer called chicha and mezcal called pacharán.
Food also plays an important role in these celebrations and dishes like guisado (meat stew), tamales (corn dough wrapped around vegetables), pasta salad, coffee and cake are commonly served.
While each part of the world celebrates it differently, one thing is clear: Dia de los Muertos is about remembrance and celebrating those who’ve left us behind.
Why Is There A Sugar Skull Trend Around Day Of The Dead?
The reason for the sugar skull trend during this time has to do with Día de los Muertos.
Sugar skulls are typically made on November 1, which is a Catholic holiday, called All Saints’ Day.
But Día de los Muertos also celebrates all those who have died and passed on, so it’s important to remember them as well.
Traditionally, it was believed that those who had died would return home and visit their families from October 31 until November 2.
Many people create altars or shrines in their homes to honor these lost loved ones and they often include sugar skulls or calaveras.
Sugar skulls can also be found at some Halloween celebrations too because they’re associated with death.