DAY OF THE DEAD
Every year on November 1st, people in the country of Mexico observe Día de Los Muertos, which is translated as the Day of the Dead. This is a day for Mexicans to welcome the souls of their deceased relatives back for a brief reunion. The day is not one of mourning, but instead an opportunity to portray death in a positive light, as a part of the human experience.
When a person dies, it often brings feelings of loss and grief. People in most cultures believe they will never see their deceased love one again. Some, however, feel their departed loved one will always be with them in spirit. They believe their departed loved one sends signs that they are still there and provides help in times of need.
One thing many cultures have in common is that when the body dies, it turns into an eternal soul. Where this soul resides is debated among faiths and cultures. Many Mexicans believe they can be reunited with their deceased loved ones. This is what the Day of the Dead is all about. It’s a way to encourage departed loved ones to come back for a brief visit. On this day, those who celebrate it exchange mourning for celebration.
HOW TO OBSERVE #DayOfTheDead
Many people celebrate this day by creating Calaveras, which are representations of human skulls. The skulls are brightly colored and contain smiling faces, to show that death is not scary. Many cities in Mexico and the United States have parades where people paint their faces and dress up in costumes.
Other ways to celebrate this day include creating offerings at makeshift alters that contain yellow marigold flowers, photos of the departed, and their favorite foods. These offerings encourage visits from departed loved ones. Another way to participate is to watch a movie that features the Day of the Dead, such as the James Bond movie Spectre or the animated hit Coco.
You can also say, “Feliz dia de los Meurtos” or share this day on social media with #DayOfTheDead.
DAY OF THE DEAD HISTORY
The origins of this day go all the way back to the ancient Aztecs. They had a unique view of death and saw it as an ever-present part of life. Upon dying, the Aztecs believed a person traveled to a place called the Land of the Dead. After several years of going through nine challenging levels, their soul could finally come to rest. To aid their departed loved ones for the journey, they often brought food and water to their loved one’s graves. For many years, this day was mostly celebrated in the rural, indigenous parts of Mexico. In the 1980s, this celebration began spreading to the cities. UNESCO added the Day of the Dead to its list of Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity in 2008. In 2016, Mexico City hosted its first-ever Day of the Dead parade.