dia de los muertos

Traditions

Origins

El Dia De Los Muertos (The Day of the Dead) is a traditionally Mexican holiday now celebrated all over the world.  In contrast to Halloween, a holiday that portrays death as spooky, Dia de Los Muertos celebrates death as the beginning of a new life.  It is believed that on this holiday deceased loved ones come back from the grave to visit their families.  For this event, the families use a variety of gifts and celebrations that serve to comfort the deceased with their beloved possessions from their time on Earth.  These reminders help welcome their loved ones back to the land of the living for a time, while men, women and children unite as a town to celebrate the lives of those who have passed on.

The Day of the Dead or El Dia de Los Muertos is a day celebrated mostly in Mexico and in some parts of the United States and Latin America.  The Day of the Dead is celebrated on November 1st and 2nd.  It is said that the soul visits the 31st of October and leaves the 2nd of November.  The 1st is related All Saints Day and the 2nd All Souls Day.  Many of the streets are decorated with a lot of color.   Family and friends dress up and have an altar where they bring many offerings. 

Offerings

Children typically receive toys or candy and the adults tend to receive favorite foods or alcohol, most popular, tequila.  The altar is not complete without the picture of the deceased soul.  Many symbols are used in this celebration.  Religious symbols such as the crucifix or a picture of the Virgin Mary are taken to the celebration.  Some of these symbols are left at the graves of the dead.  One of the most popular symbols for this celebration is the calaveras, skulls.  Skulls can be decorated and typically have the name of the deceased on the forehead. 

Icons

A very popular calavera is one made by Jose Guadalupe Posada.  He made a now famous skeleton called La Catrina.  This was a skeleton that he dressed up in very rich like clothes and was used to make fun of the rich.  The skull was to give the idea that even if you are rich when you die we all look the same.  This has been a popular symbol for many years on the Day of the Dead.  The Day of the Dead is not to say the Hispanics who celebrate this are not fearful of death but a reminder that death is inevitable and to live with the dead is the best way to mock death.