A day late, but Feliz Dia de Muertos!
A lot of people look at the sugar skulls and the altars and they assume it’s a very creepy celebration. I guess looking at it from the outside, it might look strange.
A mixture of native traditions and Catholic ones, the Day of the Dead is celebrated on November 1st and 2nd, with preparations ongoing the days before. It is a day to remember those who have left us.
I find it interesting that there is more than one culture in the world who believed that between the end of October and the beginning of November, the veil between the land of the living and the land of the dead was thinner, and travelers could go between them.
The celebration usually involves families visiting graveyards and decorating the graves of their loved ones. Altars are built at home in honor of those departed.
Traditional decorations include papel picado, flowers (specially marigolds), candles, an assortment of candies and breads made specially for the occasion, pictures, music and food amongst other things. It is believed that when our loved ones visit us, they feast on the food left for them, so their favorite foods and drinks are often left out, as well as things that they enjoyed when they lived (a deck of cards, a pack of smokes, books, etc). Some altars are huge and elaborate. Some are very simple. During this time of year there are actually altar competitions around Mexico. Some within schools, some at regional levels.
This is this year’s altar at my old university, for example:
But regardless of the amount of decoration you use, it is all about spending a few days remembering those who have left before us, remembering and honoring their memory. It is a celebration of family, music, color and great food.
I loved this little video someone put together about the Dia de los Muertos.
Have a great day!