“el Dia de los Muertos” or “Day Of The Dead” is a holiday celebrated in Mexico and by Mexican Americans. Family and friends gather to pray for and remember those who have died. The “Day of the Dead” or dia de los muertos is celebrated over a period of five days from October 28th to November 2nd. The November 1st and 2nd date is in conjunction with the Catholic holidays of All Saints’ Day and All Souls’ Day. Some traditions include building altars honoring the dead. Pay tribute to the deceased by adorning an altar or grave with treats, pictures, and objects of the departed.
The celebration of dia de los muertos is an old indigenous ritual and now it has merged with Christian holidays.
When landing in Mexico 500 years ago the Spanish conquistadors found the indigenous people practicing an already 3,000 year old ritual called Día de los Muertos, or Day of the Dead.
The symbol of The Calavera, or skeleton, and skull is common during dia de muertos. The skeletons are also dressed up into different characters. Calaveras are made from wood, paper mache, sugar, plastic, and made into edible treats like Chocolate candy skulls, sugar skulls, and all different kinds of candy. Skulls symbolize death and rebirth. Another common item is Pan de Muertos, which is a type of bread that can be decorated with meringues and skull candies. These treats are eaten and used as offerings.
Different communities will celebrate the holiday in different ways. You will see parades (comparsas), gatherings at cemeteries, where they will adorn the tombstone with offerings called ofrendas, and solitary altars. Some wear wooden skull masks called calacas and dance to honor the dead.
In the past, it is believed that during this time the dead can come back to visit the living. It is used as a time to celebrate, remember, and pray for the dead.
Mictlantecutli, the Aztec god of death, was pictured with a skull face. The holiday’s most important symbol, the skull is a symbol to celebrate death and the dead. This Aztec god of the underworld and darkness was also called Popocatzin, the “popo” smoke, with his wife Mictecacíhuatl, ruled the underworld of Mictlan, the “nine underground rivers, and the souls of the dead.
Today dia de los muertos is a more festive and family oriented event. You pray and adorn family graves and altars.
One belief describes celebrating different types of dead relatives on the different days.
For instance on: October 28th celebrate those who have died violently.
On October 29th celebrate those who died without being baptized.
On October 31st celebrate the angelitos. The day the young spirits return to the world.
On November 1st celebrate all the dead. The day the adult spirits return to the world.
Celebremos con alegria este dia con amigos y familiares. feliz dia de los muertos