Day of the Dead In Spanish: As you may know, my mother’s family comes from Mexico, so Día de Muertos has always been an important time of year for me and my siblings growing up. However, that’s not why I’m writing this article; rather, I just wanted to share the traditions I grew up with in the hopes that they might be interesting to others! If you don’t have family from Latin America or aren’t familiar with Día de Muertos traditions, here are a few things you might want to know about this Mexican holiday.
Day of the Dead In Spanish: What is Día de Muertos?
Día de Muertos is a holiday that originated in Mexico and is celebrated throughout Latin America. It takes place on November 1st and 2nd, but celebrations start as early as October 31st. The celebration starts with people making sugar skulls (skulls made from sugar) which symbolize death and can be used to decorate the home for Día de Muertos. People also make altars to honor their deceased loved ones, either around the house or at a graveyard.
The Origins of Día de Muertos
Day of the Dead, or Día de Muertos, is celebrated in Mexico and other Latin American countries on November 1 and 2. The festival is a celebration of death as part of life and includes sugar skulls, flowers, candles, and altars for departed family members.
How is Día de Muertos Celebrated?
Day of the Dead celebrations in Latin American countries often include family gatherings, indulgent foods, and traditional dress. In Mexico, many people celebrate by visiting gravesites and decorating them with day-of-the-dead flowers and sugar skulls. Others visit cemeteries to pay respects to departed loved ones.
Ofrendas: altars made to remember loved one
The altars consist of offerings such as sugar skulls, marigolds, and candles. The altar is set up on November 1st, or El Dia de los Angelitos or Day of the Little Angels. Altars can also be made to honor someone who has passed away by placing their photo and favorite foods. These altars are set up on November 2nd, or Día de los Muertos or Day of the Dead.
Marigolds: The Flower of the Dead
Marigolds are also used on Day of the Dead altars to signify mortality. They are often given as gifts and placed in front of homes. The flower is symbolic for death because it’s used to mark graves and cemeteries throughout Mexico and other Latin American countries.
Sugar skulls: Decorating for el Día de los Muertos
The most iconic and recognizable part of Día de los Muertos is the sugar skull. Sugar skulls represent life and death, and are created to honor family members who have passed away. The tradition can be traced back to Central American cultures, where they were originally made from water and honey.
Pan de muerto: Traditional bread of the dead
For centuries, on November 2nd, people in Mexico and other Latin American countries have been celebrating Día de Muertos, or the Day of the Dead, paying homage to departed family members and honoring death as a part of life. The tradition is based on pre-Hispanic beliefs that equate death with a return to society.
Altar at home: Remembering loved ones who have passed away
On this day, I will set up an altar at home to remember my loved ones who have passed away. The altar can be as simple or extravagant as you wish it to be. From a photo to flowers, candles and other items that remind me of their lives, each item on the altar will help me honor them in a way that feels right for me.