Dia de los Muertos aka Day of the Dead is a Mexican three-day Festivity. You might think this is just a Mexican Halloween. I may sound similar, but it’s not the same. They do not celebrate it like they celebrate Halloween in English-speaking countries. Its actual name is Dia de Muertos. They call it Dia de los Muertos in Anglophone countries. It is actually a back-translation of the original name. They celebrate this day in Mexico with feasts, parade and get-togethers. If you have seen the famous James Bond movie Spectre, it might bell a ring. And who can forget the 2018 Oscar winner of the best animated film Coco? That entire movie timeline was based on Dia de Muertos. It is Mexico’s one of the most popular and world’s one of the unique Festival.
Here is everything you need to know about this amazing festival.
What is Dia De Los Muertos?
Dia de los Muertos is a three day festival that takes place in Mexico. It is mostly celebrated in southern and central Mexico. Also, they celebrate it all over the world in Mexican heritage. These three days, Mexican people offer foods and drinks to their deceased relatives and friends. They offer ‘muertos’(bread of the dead’ and alcohol to them. They celebrate this day from 31st October to 2nd November. On 31st November they celebrate Dia de los Angelitos. Angelito means little angels. This day is also called the day of the innocents. On this day, little children offer foods, toys to the dead children’s soul. The next day, 1st November is for offering food to the deceased adults. On 2nd November, everyone goes to their deceased relative’s grave, and clean and decorate it. They decorate it with marigold flowers, altars, foods, and alcohols. It refers Marigold as the flower of the dead. They believe the flowers to attract the souls to their grave’s and homes. They say its bright petals and aromatic scent will attract the soul. Some families build altars or small shrines at their home. They spend some time there and pray for their deceased relatives. They hold parades throughout Mexico these three days. In these parades the men wear devil mask, women dress themselves as La Calavera Catrina (the goddess of death).
Some Key Facts About Dia De Los Muertos:
- Although they have the same dates, Dia de los Muertos and Halloween are not the same.
- They decorate graves with sugar skulls, marigold and monarch butterflies during the festival.
- Dia de los Muertos originated in Mexico and Central America.
- Dia de los Muertos is a celebration of life, not death as they believe death is just a part of life and a portal to the afterlife.
- The temporary altars they make to honour the dead are called ofrendas.
- Dia de los Muertos has a rich history, dating back over 2000 years.
- Pastries and sweets have an important role in this festival.
- This day is celebrated differently throughout Mexico.
- The Day of the dead parade is a new addition to this festival.
Dia De Los Muertos – A Short Overview:
In brief, Dia de los Muertos is a festival of Mexican people honouring their deceased loved ones. They celebrate this day in different ways in Mexico, depending on the region. This day has a similarity to Halloween. The dates are similar. But this day is not the same as the Halloween. They may call it the day of the dead, but this is a festival of life. They believe there is an afterlife from where their deceased loved ones pray for them and watch them. So they clean and decorate their graves with marigold, food, toys and alcohol to remember them. People also put candles to lighten their graves and altars. They believe in Dia de los Muertos, the dead visit their graves and homes and take the offerings. In this festival costume parades take place throughout the country. Mexican people celebrate Dia de Muertos all over the world. This is a unique and colorful festival.
What is the History of Dia De Los Muertos?
Dia de los Muertos in Mexico developed from an ancient tradition among its pre-Columbian cultures. These civilizations had observed rituals celebrating the deaths of their ancestors may be for as long as 2,500–3,000 years. The festival developed into the modern Dia de los Muertos in the ninth month of the Aztec calendar and took place for an entire month. They dedicated the festivities to the goddess known as the “Lady of the Dead” or modern day La Calavera Catrina.
Following this ritual by the 20th century in most regions of Mexico, they begin to practice honoring dead children and infants on 1st November, and to honor deceased adults on 2nd November. They refer 1st November to as Día de los Inocentes (“Day of the Innocents”) but also as Día de los Angelitos (“Day of the Little Angels”). They refer 2nd November to as Día de los Muertos or Día de los Difuntos (“Day of the Dead”).
In the 2015 James Bond film, Spectre, the opening sequence featured a Day of the Dead parade in Mexico City. No such parade took place in Mexico City during the time or before that. One year later, because of the interest in the film and the government desire to promote the pre-Hispanic Mexican culture, the federal and local authorities organized an actual “Día de Muertos” parade through Paseo de la Reforma and Centro Historico on 29th October. 250,000 people attended the parade.
When is Dia De Los Muertos?
The official festival of Dia de los Muertos takes place every year on 1st and 2nd November. The 1st day is for honoring the dead infants, and the 2nd day is to honour the dead adults.
Where is Dia De Los Muertos?
This festival is celebrated throughout Mexico. But it is very commercial and the showiest in Oaxaca.
Essential Tips to Help You Enjoy Dia De Los Muertos:
- After the release of Spectre, Dia de los Muertos has drawn lot of people’s attention. The festival is crowded, more than ever. Arrange your accommodation early.
- Join a parade. It’s colorful and hectic
- Don’t forget to paint your face like a skull. Wear a shell bracelet.
- Visit the cemetery. Trust me it’s not scary. It’s colorful and bright. It will turn into parties of the living celebrating the dead.
- Don’t forget to check out the authentic Latino cuisine.
- Buy crafts from the stores in the festival area.
- You can make or buy sugar skulls. Those are some beautiful creations.
- Don’t forget to visit the museums.
Safety Concerns during Dia De Los Muertos:
- Like all the other places, Dia de Muertos need some general safety measures.
- In the crowd, look after yourself.
- Keep your valuables things at a safer place.
- Call the emergency if you feel your or anyone is in danger.
- Drink a lot of water.
- Beware of the people in masks. Anyone can be a thief.
- If you are going in a group, try to stickup with each other.
Wow! Dia de los Muertos looks like an amazing festival of light, color and food. This is not actually a celebration of death. Day of the death is a celebration of life. Because, death is a part of life. Mexican people celebrate this festival to honor their deceased loved one. And the parade of this festival is an attraction to the tourists worldwide.
Frequently Asked Questions about Dia De Los Muertos:
Q. What happens on Day of the Dead?
Answer: The Day of the Dead is a time of celebration and remembrance of loved ones who have passed away, much like Memorial Day in the United States. On the days of the dead, the family often takes the opportunity to visit the cemetery and pull weeds, clean up any debris and decorate the graves of loved ones.
Q. Why is the Day of the Dead celebrated?
Answer: Día de los Muertos, or Day of the Dead, is a celebration of life and death. While the holiday originated in Mexico, it is celebrated all over Latin America with colorful calaveras (skulls) and calacas (skeletons).
Q. What countries celebrate the Day of the Dead?
Answer: Dia de los Muertos—the Day of the Dead—is a holiday celebrated on November 1. Although marked throughout Latin America, the Dia de los Muertos is closely related to Mexico, where the culture originated.
Q. What do the skulls represent in Day of Dead?
Answe: Sugar skulls represented a departed soul, had the name written on the forehead and was placed on the home ofrenda or gravestone to honor the return of a particular spirit. Sugar skull art reflects the folk art style of big happy smiles, colorful icing and sparkly tin and glittery adornments.