What is Day of the Dead?
Day of the Dead, also famously known as Día de los Muertos, represents the Mexicans' unique tradition of celebrating death. Mexicans believe that their dead relatives' souls come to visit the living realm on the night of Day of the Dead.
Various cultural beliefs and rituals are maintained while observing this day, and behind every single one of them, there is a beautiful meaning. In short, the locals believe that the dead should not be forgotten, and it is possible to keep them alive with the rituals and gestures made on this day.
Day of the Dead - All Quick Overview
- Date: 2nd November
- Category: Cultural
- Where It’s Marked? Mexico
- Why It’s Marked? Many people celebrate this day by visiting the graves of deceased loved ones and setting up altars with their favorite foods, drinks, and photos. It is believed that the souls of the dead return to visit their living family members. It is believed that the souls of the slow return to see their living family members.
History of the Day of the Dead
The origin of Day of the Dead can trace back to 3000 years ago. Historians found that in pre-Columbia Mesoamerica, different tribes used to perform rituals to honor deceased souls.
Again Aztecs, Nahua, and Toltec people believe it is disrespectful to mourn the dead. The tribes following pre-Hispanic culture consider death as a natural phase and a cycle.
And the cycle represents that the dead can return to the living world and visit their friends and relatives. To celebrate their temporary return joyous and happy.
The Mexicans celebrate Day of the Dead, following their ancestors' traditional beliefs. According to the Mexican and other Latin American residents who celebrate this day, Chicunamictlan, or the land of the dead, is the ultimate destination for a person after death.
But there are nine challenging levels to reach there. So, relatives and friends from the living world provide food, drinks, water, and tools to help them in this journey. And the great commemoration is the Ofrendas.
Keep reading to know more about how the day of the dead is celebrated.
How to Celebrate Day of the Dead?
How do you feel on your favorite person's death anniversary? What do you do to reminisce about their memory?
For some people, looking at old photos is stressful. Mexicans cannot be sad on the Day of the Dead. They have found various concepts and ideas to make the celebration more vibrant.
Let’s find out how the celebration goes on the day.
The celebration begins with preparing the Ofrenda. The Ofrenda is an altar decorated with items related to the deceased member of each family.
Family members welcome the spirits to come and rest after the long journey from the land of the dead. Some essential items form an Ofrenda. They are:
It is believed that if there is no photo of a dead person on the Ofrenda, he might not be able to cross the barrier between the dead and alive. And soon, he will be forgotten and vanish from the land of the deceased.
The Ofrenda is often decorated with the fruits and foods that the deceased person used to like. Family members offer drink and food to the dead, so they can rest, take the food, and bless the family again.
Also, the day's main attraction is the food of the dead: Pan de Muerto, tortillas, or sugar skulls.
(c) Candles and Copal Incense
For every dead person in the family, one candle is lit on the altar and their gravestone. And the incense purifies the area of prayer and offering.
Bright Marigolds are the main component while decorating an Ofrenda. Also, the relatives in the living world spread the marigold petals from the gravestone to their altar so that the soul can find its way easily.
How thoughtful can be a culture for the deceased souls!
2. Calacas and Calaveras
Calacas and Calaveras mean skeletons and skulls. Everywhere you look on the Day of the Dead, you will see the Calacas and Calaveras in every decoration, food item, and costume.
One famous icon is the La Calavera Catrina by Jose Guadalupe Posada. He created the figure to mimic the Mexicans who adopted European culture over their own. The cartoon is also used to mock politicians.
However, the idea was soon adopted and loved by all the people back then, and the women started dressing up like Calavera Catrina with skull-like makeup and elegant dress.
Do you think the souls travel such a long distance to the only feast? Of course not. Mexicans are already famous for their unique singing and dancing style, performing all night on Dia de Los Muertos.
They believe the dead souls will feel measurable if they witness their loved ones cry. Therefore, they try their best so that the deceased souls drink, sing, dance, and enjoy one night every year and return to the land of the dead with happy hearts.
Countries that Observe Day of the Dead
After UNESCO recognized Day of the Dead or Dia de Los Muertos as a cultural heritage, people worldwide became more interested to know more about the celebration. It is now widely celebrated in many countries.
However, to feel the authentic festive tone of the Day of The Dead, you must visit Mexico. People parade wearing skull costumes and continue singing and dancing all day long.
So, pack your bag and visit Mexico before the festival ends.
Interesting Facts about Day of the Dead
Day of the Dead is such a thoughtful celebration that there can be a list of 100 fascinating facts about the day. Here are some of them that you can share with your friends.
- Dia de Los Muertos has nothing to do with Halloween. From history to the celebration, the festivals have a significant difference.
- The day of the dead is a celebration of the life the people lead. It is a festival full of life who has passed, not their death.
- The altar, full of ofrendas, and marigold petals, draw the deceased souls to their previous homes.
- The Monarch butterfly is also used as a symbol in the decoration. The locals believe that Monarch butterflies carry the soul on their wings.
- The foods and loaves of bread are often made with lots of sugar to remember that life is sweet.
- The Papel Picado or paper cutting is used as decoration. They are designed to have holes in the cut so souls can pass through them and visit.
- Mexicans believe that the Papel Picado's delicate nature represents life's fragility.
Unique Day of the Dead Celebration Ideas
Are you wondering how to make the upcoming Day of the Dead unique? Here are some fantastic ideas you must try at the next celebration.
1. Decorate the alter with personalized items
During the whole month of October, the cities in Mexico prepare for the festival. And you can buy the items available in the market to decorate the altar.
But you can make it memorable by personalizing each item. On the altar, show your love for your favorite person who has passed with the things you make. You can put on their used jewelry, cigar, games, cards, and anything they love.
You can make sugar skulls, paper wild marigolds, red cock’s comb, or cook Pan de Muerto.
2. Craft Papel Picado
Even though it is hard to craft Papel Picado as it has detailed works, there is nothing wrong with trying! You can also include the children of the family on it.
Tell them your ancestors' stories and why celebrating Dia de Los Muertos is essential. So they will feel more connected to the festival.
3. Make the frame for photos of the deceased
The photos on the Alter represent that you still remember the person who doesn't live in the living world. So, you can make a personalized photo frame with heart-touching quotes and lettering for their photos.
You can also wear their dresses and take part in the cosplay parade.
4. Watch movies about the festival
Have you watched Coco? Coco is a 2017 animated film by Pixer about Dia de Los Muertos. In the movie, the young boy Miguel magically gained the ability to visit the Land of the Dead as the barrier between the two worlds becomes blurred at midnight.
The story tells his adventure to the other world and finding his ancestors. Do you want to know the whole story? Watch it yourself, wearing skull makeup!
Day of the Dead Quotes
If you are not Mexican and yet looking for some heartfelt quotations of Day of the Dead, we are here to help. Here are some beautiful quotes you can use to wish or even decorate your home for the Day of the Dead.
“To live in hearts we leave behind is not to die”- Thomas Campbell
“He who has gone, so we but cherish his memory, abides with us, more potent, nay, more present than the living man.”- Antoine de Saint-Exupery
“Our dead are never dead to us until we have forgotten them.”- George Eliot
“Death leaves a heartache no one can heal, love leaves a memory no one can steal.”- Richard Puz
“From my rotting body, flowers shall grow, and I am in them, and that is eternity.”- Edvard Munch
1. How long does the Day of the Dead last?
Some Mexicans celebrate Dia de Los Muertos or Day of the Dead from 28th October to 2nd November- 1 week. However, it is a two-day national holiday.
2. How long does the Day of the Dead last?
Some Mexicans celebrate Day of the Dead from 28th October to 2nd November- 1 week. However, it is a two-day national holiday.
3. What do you wear for Day of the Dead?
You can wear - traditional Mexican dresses, flower crowns, feathered hats, sugar skull face paint, colorful flowy, long, and fancy dresses with lace.
4. Do the Spanish celebrate the Day of the Dead?
Yes, they celebrate Dia de Los Muertos/Difuntos on 1st November.
Day of the Dead Observances
|2021||Tuesday||02 November||Day of the Dead|
|2022||Wednesday||02 November||Day of the Dead|
|2023||Thursday||02 November||Day of the Dead|
|2024||Saturday||02 November||Day of the Dead|
|2025||Sunday||02 November||Day of the Dead|
|2026||Monday||02 November||Day of the Dead|
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