As the calendar quickly motors through the month of October, many people shift their attention to the final day of the month. For Americans, this means focusing on Halloween, which brings forth ghosts, ghouls, witches, and candy. In Mexico, however, the end of the month brings forth a different holiday: Dia De Los Muertos, or the Day of the Dead.
What is Dia De Los Muertos?
Dia De Los Muertos is an annual Mexican holiday that is celebrated from October 31 to November 2. The holiday honors the lives of friends and family members that have passed away, and allows the living to give them support along their spiritual journey. This celebration might seem morbid to those unfamiliar with it: why would people spend an entire holiday mourning over those who lost their lives? But it is not mourning: it’s celebrating. People fondly remember the lives of those who passed and celebrate all the good times.
The Origin of Dia De Los Muertos
Dia De Los Muertos can be traced all the way back to the Aztecs and their festival for the goddess Mictecacihuati. This later developed into something closer to the modern version, as indigenous Mexicans believed that the souls of the dead returned each year to visit their living relatives. The relatives would then host a celebration and act as they did when those souls were alive: by eating, drinking, and having a good time.
Dia De Los Muertos Calendar
The Day of the Dead is a three-day extravaganza, so let’s break down the events of each day.
October 31: All Hallows Eve
October 31 serves as a celebration for the spirits of dead children, or Angelitos. The children make a children’s altar and invite the Angelitos to come back and visit them.
November 1: All Saints Day
Matching up with the Catholic celebration of All Saints Day, November 1 is basically an adult version of All Hallows Eve: rather than invite the Angelitos to visit, families invite the spirits of adults that passed away to come visit.
November 2: All Souls Day
The final day of Dia De Los Muertos is an all-out celebration. Families journey to the gravesites and decorate the tombstones of their departed family members and friends.
Dia De Los Muertos Traditions
Most holidays are known for their traditions, and Dia De Los Muertos is no different. Like anything, traditions vary depending on where one celebrates the holiday. On the island of Janitzio in Lago de Patzcuaro, for example, Dia De Los Muertos begins oat the crack of down on November first with a duck hunt.
Aside from the individual traditions, the most well-known Dia De Los Muertos Tradition is the making (or purchasing) and decorating of sugar skulls. On All Souls Day many gravesites are lined with very creatively designed sugar skulls, as Mexicans take this time to showcase their creativity. It is one of the more prominent ways Mexicans celebrate the dead and encourage the lost souls to celebrate with them on this holiday.
If learning about Dia De Los Muertos has piqued your interest in Mexican culture, come on down to Acapulcos or check out our menu. We prepare real, authentic Mexican food that will make you forget your northeastern surroundings for an hour or two and transport your brain to a beautiful Mexican village.