“El Día de los Muertos” (“the Day of the Dead”) is an important Mexican holiday which it is celebrated every year on the first two days of November. These days are dedicated to the commemoration of deceased family members, children in the first day and adults in the second.
This holiday comes from ancestral pre-Columbian rituals which turned into the modern celebration: originally it fell in August and was dedicated to La Calavera Catrina, a sort of “Lady of the Dead”. Then, after the Spanish colonization in the 16th century, it was moved to the beginning of November and assimilated with the Christian celebrations.
Even though it could seem quite spooky, it is connected to many lovely traditions and customs that are still respected and kept alive.
One of them is the constructions of altars at home: they are amazingly decorated and display all sorts of ofrendas (offerings), as flowers, candles, various personal objects, but also food and drinks to attract the loved one’s and convince them to come back for that day.
The type of flower normally used to decorate the altar is the marigold, which is believed to help the dead family members reach the living world.
Among the most common ofrendas, people put the pan de muerto, a delicious sweet bread with a light orange flavor and decorations that resemble the bones. In addition to that, people buy or make calaveras de dulce, sugar skulls with the name of the deceased written on the forehead.
Moreover, during the celebration there are calacas, colorful skeleton dressed with traditional Mexican long dresses, displayed around the cities as a symbol of this commemoration.
In the “Día de los Muertos” families normally go to the cemetery to clean and decorate gravestones and in some communities they prepare beautiful altars there as well and hold graveside vigils during the night between the 1st and 2nd November.
Do you celebrate this day in your country or do you know any similar commemoration? Let us know!