Dia de Muertos/Day of the Dead Honors the Ancestors
Day of the Dead, or Día de los Muertos, is a traditional Mexican holiday celebrated November 2. On this day, it is believed that the souls of the dead return to visit their living family members. Many people celebrate this day by visiting the graves of deceased loved ones and setting up altars with their favorite foods, drink, and photos.
The ancient indigenous people of Mexico have practiced rituals celebrating the lives of past ancestors for around 3,000 years. The celebration that is now known as Day of the Dead originally landed on the ninth month of the Aztec calendar and was observed for the entire month. In the 20th century, the month-long festivities were condensed to 3 days called The Days of the Dead: Halloween on October 31, Day of the Innocents on November 1, and Day of the Dead on November 2.
La Catrina is one of the most recognizable figures of Day of the Dead, a towering female skeleton with vibrant make up and a flamboyant feathery hat. The Lady of Death worshipped by the Aztecs protected their departed loved ones, guiding them through their final stages of the life and death cycles.
Plans for Day of the Dead are made throughout the year. Toys are offered to dead children for Day of the Innocents and bottles of alcohol or jars of alote get offered to dead adults. Most families decorate their loved ones’ graves with ofrendas, small altars with pictures and some of their favorite things which often includes marigolds. It’s said that these specific flowers attract the souls of the dead to the offerings, and the bright petals and strong scent guides the souls from the cemetery to their family’s home.
Whether you are celebrating All Hallows Eve which started as the ancient Celtic festival of Samhain, when people would light bonfires and wear costumes to ward off ghosts, Day of the Innocents celebrating children who have passed in Mexico or originally deemed All Saints Day to honor all saints, or Day of the Dead as described above, it is a sacred time to pause and give some thought to those who have transitioned. What ways do you honor those who have passed on?