Paying homage to ancestors has always been a part of human civilization. Also known as the veneration of the dead, the tradition of showing love and respect to the duly departed has been part of different cultures all around the world, be it Asia, Europe, Africa, America, or Oceania. The goals of ancestor veneration may slightly differ from region to region, but it has been an integral part of distinct communities. And Mexico is no exception to it. To remember the friends and family members who have died, Day of the Dead is celebrated every year in Mexico, and by the people having Mexican ancestry living in different regions, especially in the United States. This celebration has so much to it that you will be intrigued knowing about it further. Here is everything you need to know about Day of the Dead, also known as Día de Muertos.
If you have always been keen to find out what is Day of the Dead celebration, then your wait is finally over. We are now going to discuss everything about Día de Muertos, or Day of the Dead.
Before moving on to the celebrations involved in Day of the Dead, let us first get familiar with the origins and beliefs associated with this observance. Speaking of the origins of Día de Muertos or Day of the Dead, it can be dated back to the pre-Columbian era. It all started around 2500 to 3000 years when the celebration was observed in the ninth month of the Aztec calendar, i.e. August. The celebrations lasted for a month and dedicated to the ‘Lady of Dead’, which is analogous with the modern La Calavera Catrina.
The modern-day ‘Day of the Dead’ celebration is the result of the influence of two cultures. The first being the Aztec custom of celebrating the ancestors, which was later combined with Allhallowtide that was brought by the Spanish invaders to Mexico. And this is the reason why Day of the Dead concurs with Allhallowtide- the Western Christian triduum that begins with All Saints’ Eve, followed by All Saints’ Day and culminating with All Souls’ Day. And so, Day of the Dead celebrations begin from 31st October and last to 2nd November.
The celebration is much popular in Mexico, especially its Central and South regions. But with the passage of time, it spread to the regions where there is Mexican ancestry. It is also celebrated in the USA.
It was in 2008 when this tradition got inscribed in the ‘Representative List of the Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity’ by UNESCO. In the contemporary, the celebration of Day of the Dead is observed in different parts of the world. All the friends and family members gather to remember and pray for the beloved deceased to help support their spiritual journey.
The best part about Day of the Dead is the festivities and celebrations involved in this commemoration. Here is everything you need to know about the festivities and celebration involved in Day of the Dead.
People pay a visit cemeteries in order to spend time with the souls of the departed. Private altars are built where the favorite dishes and drinks of the deceased friends and family members are kept. In addition to this, memorabilia and photos of the duly departed are also placed. The idea is to encourage the visits by souls so that they would hear the prayers of the living ones. Instead of being serious or formal, Day of the Dead is more of a lively event. The celebrations may take a comical tone recollecting the funny incidents and narratives about the departed.
Throughout the year, plans are made for the day and people gather all the necessary goods to be offered to the dead. Graves are cleaned and decorated during the three-day period. People visit cemeteries where their beloved are buried and their graves are decorated with ofrendas, i.e. altars. Mexican marigolds can be easily spotted on the graves as it is considered as the ‘Flor de Muerto’, that means flower of the dead. The flowers are a way of attracting the dead to the offerings.
For the dead children, toys are bought, on the other hands, the departed adults are offered with mescal, tequila, jars of atole or pulque. Some families even offer candies to their deceased beloved. It actually depends from family to family and their beliefs. Some of them even prepare sugared skulls and candied pumpkins and decorate altars at their homes. And you will be amazed to know that some of them even have picnics at the grave site!
So, that was all about the Day of the Dead and how it is celebrated. What are your plans for this commemoration? We would definitely like to know! Feel free to share your views and ideas in the comment section below.
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