Day of the Dead

Ashley Castillo
Contributing Writer
November 2018

Día de los muertos or Day of the Dead is a Mexican holiday that has grown in popularity around the world in the last few years but has been a traditional Mexican holiday for nearly 3,000 years.
The origins of Day of the Dead can be traced back to Mexican tribes like the Aztec, Nahuas, Totonacas and others located in Central and Southern Mexico.

It was a time to celebrate the lives of their deceased ancestors through a month long celebration that occurred around August. People celebrated death as part of life and conserved skulls as a trophy that symbolizes rebirth.

During this celebration the dead were believed to wake up and have their souls reunite and enjoy food, drinks and parties the world offers with their families.

When Spanish colonizers arrived to Mexico they were terrified by the tribes’ pagan practices and while converting them to the Catholic religion, moved their celebration to the first and second day of November to coincide with their Catholic holiday, Día de todos los Santos y Todas las Almas, a holiday that celebrates all Catholic saints that do not have their own holiday in the church calendar.

In present day, the holiday is still celebrated to commemorate the dead, but on the first and second of every November like the Spanish established.

Families get together, cook, and build beautiful, colorful altars that represent the things their loved ones loved while on Earth.

La flor de muerto, the cempasuchil flower, is one of the main decorative pieces used in altars since it was believed to preserve the sun’s heat and light up the way back home for the deceased. Pictures of family members and candles crowd the altars as well as some of the person’s favorite things.

On November first and second, cemeteries throughout the country light up with candles and host festivities all night long. Cigarettes for the once alive smokers are lit and shot glasses for the drinkers are served while the deceased wake up from their eternal sleep to enjoy the things they once loved.

Author: Herald Staff