Throughout time and across the world, cultures have found unique ways of dealing with the loss of a loved one. In Mexico, people celebrate Dia de los Muertos or Day of the Dead. It’s not necessarily a sad moment either. If anything, it’s a colorful celebration dedicated to the dearly departed in that country. And although the festival has evolved over the years, it’s still a major event in Mexico. So, although Halloween is behind us, there’s still time to get into the spirit of things for Dia de los Muertos. But in case you’re wondering how, here’s the way most Mexicans celebrate this very important holiday.
Dia de los Muertos honors the dead every single year on October 31, November 1, and November 2.
November 1 is dedicated to deceased children on the Day of the Innocents (Dia de los Inocentes) or Day of the Little Angels (Dia de los Angelitos). Then, on November 2, adults are honored. But the entire celebration is a three-day event that can’t be missed.
The Day of the Dead is traced back to Pre-Columbian Mexico between the years 1300 and 1521.
The Aztec Empire was in power and they considered it rude to mourn the loss of those who had crossed over. So, they came up with a month-long celebration that allowed the deceased to pay the living a visit while also paying tribute to “The Lady of the Dead.”
On Day of the Dead, Mexicans will paint their faces to look like decorative Calaveras or skeletons.
Some people even add flowers to their hair or wear big hats to accentuate the look. This tradition has inspired a number of Halloween costumes in the States, as well as other contemporary cultures beyond the border.
Mexican people also celebrate by creating flag-like artwork known as papel picado or chiseled paper.
In the Pre-Columbian era, people made these out of trees, because the Aztecs were total bosses when it came time to adorning religious sites. But tody, this type of folk art is made out of technicolor tissue paper.
Every region in Mexico has their way of celebrating the Day of the Dead, but there are some similarities.
The celebration will often involve the creation of an altar, where family members, friends, or participants can add food, skeletons, and other trinkets. But these altars aren’t just for decoration. They provide a bridge that allows the dearly departed souls to make their way back to the world of the living.