Día de Muertos

In Mexico, the holiday known as Día de Muertos occurs around the time as which other holiday?

And the answer is: Halloween.

Photo Courtesy: ChooseChigago.com

The Day of the Dead, or el Día de los Muertos, is typically celebrated on the 1st and 2nd of November. It's a time for families to briefly welcome back the souls of their deceased family members to celebrate their lives. The day is a festive one, with food, drink, and celebration.

Día de los Muertos is a celebration dating back thousands of years. While today its festivities are a blend of Mesoamerican tradition, European religion and Spanish culture, its origins can be traced back some 3,000 years to the Aztec and Nahua people's tradition of honoring the dead. In their culture, death was accepted and prepared for as a part of life – in a yearly celebration honoring the dead, the Nahua offered food, water and tools to aid the deceased on their journey in the afterlife. On el Día de los Muertos, the dead are honored through similar ofrendas: small, personal altars, complete with candles, flowers, and personal momentos.

Meanwhile, in Europe (specifically medieval Spain), pagan celebrations of the dead consisted of bonfires, food, and drink. On the first and second of November were two minor Catholic holidays: All Saints Day and All Souls Day. On All Souls Day, pan de ánimas (literally "spirit bread") was brought to the graves of loved ones. In the 16th century, Spanish conquistadores began to bring such traditions to the New World.

Over the course of the holiday, the border between the spirit world and real world is said to dissolve. Deceased loved ones are treated as honored guests in the home, and celebrated rather than mourned. On November 1, known as Día de los Inocentes, children who have died are honored by graves with white orchids and baby's breath flowers. November 2, known as Día de los Muertos, honors adults. Their graves are decorated with marigolds.

Did you know?

Noisemakers such as shells or beads are worn during Día de los Muertos for a variety of reasons – one such explanation is that the loud noises raise the dead from their sleep to join the festivities. Since they are invisible to the living, the idea is that they must be incorporated into the community in other ways.

Check out the colors, culture and sights of Día de los Muertos below.


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